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toon Commander." 

II. DIXMUDE. The Epic of the French 
Marines. Oct. - Nov. 1914. By 
Charles le Goffic. Illustrated 

III. IN THE FIELD (1914-15). The 

Impressions ot an Oflicer of Light 


a French Army Doctor. lUustrated 


Warnod. lilusirated 



" Anzac." 


21 Bedford Street, W.C. 







First Published June 191 6. 

Neiv Impressions July, September, October 19 16. 

Lonaon : fVilliam Heinemann, 19 16, 


The responsibility for the publication of this book 
lies with me^ and with me alone. I trust that that 
great " S^ilent Service^'' one of whose finest tradi- 
tions is to " do " and not to " talk^'' will see in it 
no indiscretion. 

To state that these pages make no claim to 
literary merit seems almost superfluous^ since they 
are simply a boys story of ten months of the Great 
War as he saw it. In deference to the said 
tradition the names of officers and ships concerned 
have been suppressed — those of the midshipmen 
mentioned are all fictitious. 

The story has been compiled from a narrative 
written by my son during a short spell of sick leave 
in December 191 5. Considering that all his 
diaries were lost when his ship was sunk., it may 
at least be considered a not inconsiderable feat of 


memory. Originally it zvas intended only for 
-private circulation^ hut many who have read it 
have urged me to put it into print ; ana I have 
decided to do so in the hope that their prediction 
that it would prove of interest to the public may 
be justified. 

In so far as was practicable.^ I have tried to teh 
the story in my sons own words ; but it may 
possibly be argued that at tim,es words and phrases 
are such as would not normally be used by a hoy 
of barely sixteen. To that charge I can only reply 
that in the main even tire words are his own., 
and I have faithfully reproduced his ideas ana 

Those who have come in contact with the boys 
who left us as children^ and returned to us dowered 
by their tremendous experiences with knowledge 
and insight so far in advance of their years., will 
find nothing incongruous in reflections commonly 
foreign to such extreme youth. It is one of the 
logical results of the fiery crucible of IVar. 

Let it he reme^nbered that these boys have looked 
Death in the face — not once onh\ but many times ; 


and that^ like our soldiers in the trenches — who no 
longer say of their ^^-pals " '^ He is deady" but only 
** He has gone west " — they have learned to see in 
the Great Deliverer not a horror^ not an end, but 
a mighty and glorious Angela setting on the brows 
of their comrades the crown of immortality ; and so 
when the call comes they, like Sir Richard 
Grenville of old, " with a ^oyful spirit dieT 

What would be unnatural is that their stupen- 
dous initiation could leave thetn only the careless 
children of a few months back. 

The mobilisation of the Dartmouth Cadets came 
with a shock oj rather horrified surprise to a certain 
section of the public, who could not imagine that 
boys so young could be of any practical utility in the 
grim business of War. There was, indeed, after 
the tragic loss of so many of them in the Cressy, 
the Aboukir, and the Hogue, an outburst of 
protest in Parliament and the Press. In the first 
shock of grief and dismay at the sacrifice of such 
young lives, it was perhaps not unnatural ; but it 
argued a limited vision. Did those who agitated 
^or these Cadets to be removed from the post of 


danger forget^ or did they never realise^ that on 
every battle-ship there is a large number of boys^ 
sons of the working classes^ whose service is 
indispensable ? 

It seemed to me that if my son was too young to 
be exposed -to such danger^ the principle must apply 
equally to the son of my cook^ or my butcher^ or my 
gardener^ whose boys were no less precious to them 
than mine was to me. 

In the great band of Brothers who are fighting 
^or their country and for the triumph of Right and 
lustice there can be no class distinction of values. 
Those who belong to the so-called ^^ privileged 
classes ^^ can lay claim only to the privilege of being 
leaders — first in the field and foremost at the post 
of danger. It is the only possible justification of 
their existence; and at the post of danger they have 
found their claim to priority hotly and gloriously con- 
tested by the splendid heroes of the rank and file. 

Presumably the Navy took our boys because they 
were needed^ and no one to-day will feel inclined to 
deny that those Dartmouth Cadets have abundantly 
proved their worth. 


For the rest^ ij there be any merit in this record^ 
the credit lies with the hoy who provided the 
material from which it has been written : for any 
feebleness^ inadequacy^ or indiscretion the blame 
must fall on that imperfect chronicler — 

His, Mother 

A 2 



I Dartmouth College . . . . i 

II MaNCEUVRES . . . . .12 

III The Beginning of the " Real Thing " 24 

IV We Join our Ship .... 34 
V Alarums and Excursions ... 49 

VI We Leave Home Waters ... 65 

VII From Egypt to Mombasa ... 88 

VIII The Bombardment of Dar-es-Salaam . 118 

IX Ordered to the Dardanelles . .130 

X In Action ...... 140 

XI The Sinking of the Ship . . . 152 

XII Home ....... 165 




My first term at Dartmouth commenced on 
the 7 th of May 19 14 — previously I had, of 
course, been through the regulation two years 
at Osborne College in the Isle of Wight. 

Most of my term-mates came down from 
London by the special cadet train, and I should 
have greatly preferred to have travelled with 
them, but my home was so far away that I had 
to do the journey in solitary state, and when I 
arrived at Kingswear Station at 9.30 on that 
beautiful spring evening, 1 found myself a 
belated last comer. 

A servant had been sent to meet me, and 
when he had collected my luggage we embarked 
on the Otter^ one of the steamboats belonging 
to the College, which was lying alongside the 


pontoon. The passage of the river Dart only 
took a few minutes, and we landed at Sandquay, 
where are situated the engineering shops, in 
which no small proportion of my brief time 
at Dartmouth was destined to be spent. 
Compared with the collection of low, one- 
storied, bungalow-like buildings which comprise 
the Osborne premises, the College, standing 
high upon a hill above the river, appeared to 
me a very imposing structure, and pleasantly 
suggestive of a distinct advance towards the 
goal of my ambitions — a goal destined to be 
reached s6 swiftly, and by such unexpected 
paths, as 1 at that moment little dreamed of. 

A long flight of stone steps leads up through 
the grounds from the workshops, and after 
climbing these I found myself in the big 
entrance-hall of the College, where I was met 
by a warrant officer, who took me to his office, 
and, after filing my health certificate, showed 
me the way to the vast mess-room where the 
five hundred or so of cadets in residence have 
all their meals. Here I had supper, consisting 


of cold meat and bread-and-cheese ; and when 
I had finished, the gunner took me to my 
dormitory, pointed out my sea-chest and bed, 
and then left me to turn in. 

By this time it was about 10.30, my mess- 
mates were all asleep, and the long room was 
only dimly illuminated by the " dead lights " 
which are kept burning all night, as no matches 
or candles are allowed. Removing my boots, 
I tiptoed round the chests adjoining mine to 
see by the nameplates who my immediate 
neighbours might be, and then, folding up my 
clothes in regulation fashion, I jumped into bed 
and was soon fast asleep. 

At 6 o'clock next morning we were all 
awakened by the reveille, and trooped down in 
a body to the bath-rooms for the cold plunge 
with which, unless excused by doctor's orders, 
every cadet must begin the day. Then, having 
been informed by the senior cadets who were 
placed in authority over us that if we were 
not dressed in one and a half minutes the 
consequences would be unpleasant, we threw 


on as many clothes as possible, and ran out of 
the dormitory surreptitiously carrying boots, 
ties and collars, and finished dressing in the 
gun-room. Then we waited about, greeted 
friends, and exchanged reminiscences of the 
past " leave " until summoned to breakfast 
at 7.30. 

This meal was served in the mess-room in 
which 1 had had my supper the night before, 
and we all scrambled and fought our way up 
some stairs to a gallery where were situated the 
four long tables reserved for the use of the 
junior term. 

Breakfast over, the cadet captains (who 
correspond to the monitors of our public 
schools) showed us over the College grounds, 
and drew our attention to the various rules, 
regulations, and notices posted up at different 
points. We also paid a visit to the canteen, 
where may be purchased ices, bung, sweets, and 
similar delicacies dear to all schoolboys. As a 
more detailed description of my first day would 
not be particularly interesting, I will just describe 


one in mid-term as fairly typical of the College 

At 6 o'clock, roused by the reveille, we 
scurry to the bath-room, take the prescribed 
cold plunge, and then dress. Hot cocoa and 
ship's biscuit are served in the mess-room and 
followed by an hour's study. At 7.30 "fall 
in " in the long corridor called the " covered 
way," which leads from the dormitories to the 
mess-room. All the other terms having gone 
in to breakfast, our particular batch of cadets is 
called to " attention." Then comes the order : 
*' Right turn ! Double march ! " — and helter- 
skelter, as fast as we can lay foot to the ground, 
we rush along the hundred yards of corridor 
to the mess-room door and fight our way 
through that narrow opening. Woe betide the 
unfortunate who falls in the melee ! He will 
get trampled on by all behind, and when finally 
he is able to rise to his feet, dazed and bruised, 
after the rush has gone by, he will be assisted on 
his way by the unsympathetic toes of the cadet 
captain's boots. Moral : Keep your footing ! 


After a brief grace we fall to and devour 
porridge with brown sugar and fresh, creamy, 
Devon milk, rolls and butter, supplemented by 
kippers, bacon and eggs, or some similar fare. 

As no grace is said after breakfast, each cadet 
is at liberty to leave as soon as he has finished, 
and to repair to his own gun-room until the 
bugle sounds for divisions at 9 o'clock. At 
the call we all " fall in " by terms in the big 
hall which is called the quarter-deck. The 
Lieutenant of each term then inspects his cadets 
a! id reports to the Commander that they are 
" correct," after which the Commander in his 
turn reports the whole six terms to the Captain. 
Then the Chaplain comes in, the Commander 
calls all present to "attention," and gives the 
order " Off caps." The Padre gives out the 
number of some familiar hymn, and, after a few 
verses have been sung, he reads some short 

Then caps are replaced, and, in obedience 
to the word of command, the respective terms 
in order of seniority march off to the studies. 


Let it be supposed that my term has to go 
to the engineering works at Sandquay on this 
particular morning. 

Procedure is as follows : " Divisions " over, 
we fall in on a path outside the College and the 
Engineer Lieutenant marches us down to the 
workshops. Dismissed from marching order 
we go into the lobby and shift into overalls, 
after which we repair in batches to the various 
shops. Here we construct and fit together 
parts of the many different types of marine 
engines ; dealing in the process with such 
work as the casting, forging, and turning of 
steel and brass. 

After two hours of this practical work we 
shift out of our overalls, resume our uniform 
jackets and caps, and go to one of the lecture- 
rooms where, for the remaining hour an 
engineer officer instructs us in the theory 
of motors, and turbines, and various other 
engineering technicalities. Then we are again 
fallen in outside the shops and marched up 
to the College, where we have a '* break " of 


a quarter of an hour in which to collect the 
books required for the succeeding hour of 
ordinary school work. 

One o'clock finds us once more assembled 
in the covered way to double along to the 
mess-room for lunch. 

After this meal every one must stay in his 
place until grace is said, when each term rises 
in order of seniority and doubles out of the 
mess-room to the different gun-rooms. 

It may be here noted that everything at 
Dartmouth is done at the " double," i. e. at 
a run. Strolling around with your hands in 
your pockets after the fashion of most public 
schools is of course not allowed in an establish- 
ment where naval discipline prevails. 

After half an hour allowed for digestion 
we collect our books and go to the studies 
for another two hours' work. 

At 4 o'clock we are mustered again for 
" quarters " as at " divisions " in the morning, 
and when dismissed double away to shift into 
flannels for recreation. 


The choice of play and exercise is very 
varied, but no one is allowed to " loaf." 
Everv cadet must do what is called a " log," 
and the manner in which he has spent his 
recreation time is duly entered against his 
name each day. The '* log " in question 
may consist of a game of cricket, a two-mile 
^row on the river, two hours' practice at the 
nets followed by the swimming of sixty yards 
in the baths, or a set of tennis or fives. 

Any cadet who cannot swim must learn 
without delay. The bath, eight feet deep at 
one end and three feet at the other, is thirty 
yards long. It is opened at 6 p.m., and there 
is always a large attendance. A spring board 
for diving is provided, as well as various ropes 
suspended six feet above the water by means 
of which the more agile spirits swing them- 
selves along, as monkeys swing from tree to 

All exercise is purposely strenuous, for the 
four years' preparation is a test of physical as 
much as of mental strength, and every year 


some boys are " chucked," to their bitter dis- 
appointment, because they cannot attain to the 
standard of physical fitness indispensable for 
the work they, as naval officers, would be 
expected to perform. Defective eyesight is 
one of the commonest causes of rejection, for 
it is obvious that full, normal vision is essential 
for the Navy. 

On the river there is the choice of two kinds 
of boat — five-oared gigs and skifFs. A long 
and muddy creek, known as Mill Creek, 
branches off from the river just above the 
College. Great trees overhang its banks on 
either side and, if one cares to risk disobedience 
to orders, a very pleasant way of passing an 
afternoon is to tie up one's boat in the shade 
and settle down with a book and some smuggled 
cigarettes. But it is well to remember that the 
tide here is very treacherous. Once I saw three 
cadets marooned on a mud-bank quite forty 
yards from the water's edge. 

At 6.30 every one must be within the Col- 
lege buildings, and by a quarter to 7 all cadets 


must have shifted into proper uniform and be 
ready for tea. 

At 7.30 there is "prep.," which lasts till 
8.30, when the "cease fire" bugle sounds. 
Then the band plays on the quarter-deck, and 
there is dancing till 9, after which tvtr/ one 
" falls in " for five minutes' prayer. Then the 
terms double away to their dormitories. At 
9.30 the Commander goes "rounds," and every 
one must be in bed. As soon as he has passed 
lights are put out and the day is over. 



This summer term of 19 14, destined surely 
to be the most momentous in the whole history 
of the College, nevertheless pursued its normal 
course until July 18, on which date began the 
great test mobilisation of the " Fleet in being," 
to which we had all been eagerly looking 
forward for some weeks. 

It is, perhaps, too soon to speculate on the 
influence which this most opportune concentra- 
tion of sea power brought to bear on the course 
of the War. Was it due to foresight ? Was 
it a deliberate warning to trespassers not to 
tread on Great Britain's toes } Or was it just 
a gorgeous piece of luck ^ Who shall say ? 
Certainly not a mere " snottie " ! Anyway, it 

is a matter of history that after manoeuvres the 



Fleet was not demobilised, with the result that 
the swift, murderous assault on our open sea- 
coast towns which, judging by the light of sub- 
sequent events, was even then in preparation, 
was happily averted. 

The cadets were all sent to Portsmouth, from 
where they embarked on the various ships to 
which they had been respectively appointed. 
As a description of my personal experiences I 
think 1 will insert here the copy of a letter 
I wrote to my mother on my return to the 
College, omitting only some personal details of 
no interest to the public. 

"Dartmouth College, Devon : July 25, 19 14. 

" Darling Mother — 

" Thanks so much for your letter and 

enclosures Now to describe the 

mobilisation. It was the finest thing I've ever 
seen ! I did enjoy myself. When we were 
just coming into Gosport in the train, we saw 
an airship and two aeroplanes above us. We 
went on board the tank-ship Provider^ which 


took us to our respective ships. While we 
were waiting to start we saw flights of aero- 
planes like birds chasing each other through 
the air, and a big airship was slowly hovering 
about low down on the horizon. The harbour 
was teeming with dashing little launches rushing 
about commanded by * snotties ' ! Outside the 
sight was wonderful. Simply miles of stately 
battle-ships, and swarms of little torpedo 
craft. As we steamed out the Astra Torres^ a 
huge airship, hovered over us. Just as we 
got abreast the line they fired a salute of 
I 2 -pounders to the King. It was lovely seeing 
the little white spurts of smoke from the sides 
of the huge ships. We went alongside the 
Irresistible^ and soon afterwards saw the 
Formidable signalling to us a message from my 
ship — the Lord Nelson. 

" Almost directly afterwards her launch 
steamed alongside towing a boat for our 
luggage. There were no ' snotties ' on board 
my ship and we had to take their duty, and 
were treated iust like midshipmen. It was 


absolutely ripping ! When we got on board 
we went down to the gun-room flat and deposited 
our bags and ' macks.' Then we went up 
on deck and a Petty Officer showed us the 9-2 
and 12 inch turrets, and how they worked. 
Then we set to and started to explore the ship. 
Then came supper of sardines and bread-and- 
butter and ginger-beer in the gun-room. 

*' Then we went on deck and looked at 
everything and climbed up to the searchlight 
platforms till the searchlight display began. 
That was splendid. The beams seemed to 
pierce everywhere. They described arcs and 
circles in the sky and swept up and down, and 
round and round, and from right forward to 
right aft. This went on for about an hour, and 
then we turned into our hammocks. At first 
1 couldn't get into mine, but when I had 
succeeded, and as soon as I had kicked the foot 
out as the hammock was too short for me, i 
found that it was more comfortable than a 
bed. The only thing that kept me awake was 
the ship's company ' sing-song,' but I did not 


mind as it was all very lovely and novel, and 
they sang such topping sea-songs. 

" We turned out in the morning and had a 
bath and dressed, and had a topping breakfast, 
and then went on deck. We had to officer 
parties of seamen at ' divisions.' I was in 
charge of the ship's boys. After that we had 
church, which was on the men's mess-deck. I 
sat just opposite the galley whence emerged 
an odour of varied foods cooking, and I was so 
far away from the Padre that 1 never heard a 
word and nearly went to sleep. After church 
we shifted from our best clothes and started 
exploring again. We looked in the engine- 
room and went up a mast, etc. Then we had 
lunch. After lunch we went all round the 
Fleet in a little steam launch, and as the Lord 
Nelson was flagship of the 2nd Fleet we 
conveyed instructions to a lot of ships. When 
we came back we had tea, and then went on 
deck and ragged about for some time. Hav- 
ing had supper we went on deck and got into 
conversation with a sporting Lieutenant, who 


told us all sorts of things about the Navy. 
While he was talking to us the * liberty ' men 
came off from the shore, and one bandsman 
was so drunk he fell in the sea trying to get 
out of the boat. Then we turned in and I fell 
asleep almost at once. Next morning we got 
up early and watched them weighing anchor. 
Then we saw the ist Fleet slowly get under 
way. When they had all passed we got under 
way and steamed down Spithead at the head of 
our line. When we got near the royal yacht, 
ship was lined and we fell in on the after turret 
to cheer the King. That was grand ! To see 
the stately ships steam by and hear their ship's 
companies cheering for their King ! 

" Then we went below and shifted into 
flannels and put on our overalls and had to get 
down into the engine-room and boiler-room to 
be shown round. In the upper part of the 
boiler-room the temperature was about 110° 
Fahrenheit, I should think ! The rails of the 
steps were so hot that they blistered my hands. 
Then the ist Fleet fought us in a sham fight 


out in mid-channel, and there was a beastly 
row when each ship started firing her 1 2- 

"In the middle of it the ist Fleet Destroyer 
flotilla dashed up to within 400 yards, intending 
to torpedo us, and we fired our 12-pounders 
as fast as we could load them. The flotilla 
then turned round and steamed away as fast as 
they could. I think we were supposed to 
have beaten them off^. At 4 o'clock the battle 
ended and our Fleet remained at sea all that 
night. We arrived at Portland at 8 in the 
morning, and after breakfast we disembarked 
and returned to the College by train. I must 
stop now as it is time for prayers. Fuller 
details in the leave. Best love from 

"P.S. My shirts haven't come yet, I've just 

That '' leave " never came. How little we 
dreamed at the time of the mobilisation that 


we were so near to the "real thing " ! But I 
must not anticipate. 

On the 25th July, three days after the 
events just recorded, the examinations began. 

The diplomatic struggle in Europe result- 
ing from Austria's note to Serbia formed the 
chief topic of discussion in the College, but no 
particular excitement prevailed until Tuesday 
the 28th of July, when we learned that 
Austria had declared war on Serbia, and 
Russia had ordered a partial mobilisation of her 

That afternoon when we were all fallen in 
at " quarters," and after the terms had been 
reported by their officers to the Commander, 
and were awaiting the customary dismissal, the 
Captain came on to the quarter-deck, and, 
going up to the Commander, said a few words 
to him in an undertone. The Commander 
saluted, and, turning to the ranks, gave the 
order, " Cadets, 'shun ! " 

Every one sprang to " attention," all eyes 


fixed upon the Captain. He said ; " I have just 
received this telegram from the Admiralty." 
Then in a clear, ringing voice he read the dis- 
patch, which, to the best of my recollection, ran 
as follows — 

" In the event of war, prepare to mobilise at 
a moment's notice." 

After a short pause during which a universal 
murmur of excitement rippled through the 
ranks, he continued : 

"If I receive the order to mobilise the College, 
all cadets will be recalled immediately whatever 
they may be doing. You will proceed at once 
to your dormitories, where you will pack your 
chests, and move them out of the dormitories 
to the nearest pathway, and stand by to load 
them on the carts and wagons which will convey 
them down to the pier. You will then fall in 
in terms on the quarter-deck to draw your pay. 
I will have lists of the ships to which cadets are 
appointed posted up in the gun-rooms as soon 
as they are made out. The Hawke and Drake 
terms will go to Portsmouth ; the Grenville 


and Blakes to Chatham, and the Exmouth 
and St. Vincents with the ships' company to 
Devonport. The Chatham batch will leave the 
College first, followed by the Portsmouth 
batch. Those going to Devonport will leave 
last. A year ago I promised the Admiralty 
to clear the College of all cadets and active 
service ratings in eight hours. I trust to you 
to make this promise good." 

Then with a word to the Commander he left 
the quarter-deck. 

The Commander turned to the ranks and 
gave the order " Stand at ease," and then to 
the officer of the sixth term he said : " Carry 
on, please." 

On the way to the dormitories and while 
shifting wild speculation was rife. Very little 
cricket was played that afternoon. Groups of 
excited cadets collected about the playgrounds 
and discussed in all their bearings the two 
absorbing questions — '* M^ould England declare 
war ^ Should we be mobilised ^. " 

Luckily for our education only two more 


exams, remained to be done, since we were far 
too excited to give them much attention. What 
after all were examinations compared with the 
possibility of such tremendous adventures as 
had suddenly loomed up on our horizon ! 

At this time, as the reader will no doubt 
remember, portentous events followed each 
other in such quick succession that more 
excitement was crammed into a single day 
than into any ordinary week or even month. 
On the Wednesday morning when we 
assembled in the gun-room a rush was made 
for the notice board, on which had been posted 
the list of ships to which in the event of war 
we had been appointed. These were eagerly 
scanned, and excitement rose to fever pitch. 
To see one's name in print as appointed to a 
real definite ship seemed to bring it all so much 
nearer : to materialise what up till then had 
seemed more like some wild and exciting 
dream of adventure than a sober fact. 

However, by Thursday morning no order to 
mobilise had been received and hope died down 


again, and by Friday, after the manner of the 
fox in the fable, we were all consoling one 
another for the unattainable by such remarks 
as : " After all, it will be much better fun to go 
on leave next Tuesday than to fight any beastly 



"Mobilise!" On Saturday the ist of 
August, the Captain, standing at the main 
entrance to the College, opened the fateful 
telegram which contained only that one mo- 
mentous word. It had come at last ! Our 
dreams were realised : it was war ! But — 
did one of us 1 wonder even dimly imagine 
the stern and terrible business that war 
would be ? 

The news reached me as 1 was leaning 

against the balcony of the gymnasium talking 

to a friend after a bout at the punch-ball. 

A dishevelled fifth-termer burst through the 

swing doors and shouted at the top of his 

voice " Mobilise ! " 

At first all were incredulous. Murmurs of 



** Only a scare " — " I dont think ! " etc., etc., 
rose on all sides ; but, after the messenger 
had kicked two or three junior cadets through 
the door with emphatic injunctions to "get 
a move on quick " — the rest of us were con- 
vinced, and we hurled ourselves out of the 
building and away to the College. 

Already an excited crowd was surging through 
the grounds : some with mouths still full from 
the canteen, others clutching cricket-pads and 
bats, and yet others but half-dressed, with hair 
still dripping from the swimming bath. 

Masters and officers on motor bikes and 
" push " bikes were careering over the sur- 
rounding country to recall the cadets who had 
gone out on leave, and to commandeer every 
kind of vehicle capable of carrying the big 
sea-chests down to the river. 

In gun-room and dormitory clothes, books, 
and boots were thrown pell-mell into these 
same chests, which, when crammed to their 
utmost capacity, were closed with a series of 
bangs which rang out like the sound of pistol 


shots. Perspiring cadets, with uniform thrown 
on anyhow, dragged and pushed them through 
doors and passages with sublime disregard of 
the damage to both. 

Once outside willing hands loaded them 
into every conceivable vehicle, from motor 
lorries to brewers' drays, and these conveyed 
them post haste to the pier, where they were 
loaded on the steamer Mew, and ferried across 
the river to Kingswear Station. 

For two hours the work of transportation 
went on, and then all cadets turned to and 
strapped together such games, gear, and books 
as were to be sent home. 

At 5.30 every one fell in on the quarter- 
deck, and as each received his pay went off 
to the mess-room to get something to eat 
before setting out on the train journey. After 
this we all repaired to the gunner's office to 
telegraph to our homes that we were ordered 
away on active' service. My wire was as 
follows : " General mobilisation. Embarked 
H.M.S.' ,' Chatham. Will write at once "— 



and when received was a terrible shock to 
my poor mother, who had not had the faintest 
idea that we " first termers " would in any 
eventuality be sent to sea. 

I belonged to the first, or Blake, term, which 
it will be remembered was due to go to 
Chatham, and consequently ours was the first 
batch to leave. 

At 6.30 we "fell in" in two ranks outside 
the College, and our messmates gave us a 
parting cheer as we marched ofF down to 
Dartmouth. Here we had a sort of triumphal 
progress through crowds of cheering townsfolk 
to the quay. Embarked on the M^ew we were 
quickly ferried across to the station, where a 
long train was in waiting. Ten of us, who 
had been appointed to the same ship, secured 
two carriages adjoining one another, and then 
scrambled hurriedly to the bookstalls for news- 
papers, magazines, and cigarettes. These 
secured, we took our seats and shortly after- 
wards the train drew out of the station, and 
our long journey had begun. 


Thus it was that, three weeks before my 
fifteenth birthday, I went to war ! 

The journey to Chatham was likely to be long 
and tedious. After all the excitement of the last 
few hours a reaction soon set in and we longed 
for sleep, so we settled ourselves as best we 
might on the floor, on the seats, and even on 
the racks. 

At first I shared a seat with another cadet, 
sitting feet to feet and resting our backs 
against the windows ; but this position did not 
prove very conducive to slumber, and at 
I o'clock I changed places with the boy in 
the rack. This was little better, for I found 
it awfully narrow, and whenever I raised my 
head even an inch or two, bump it went against 
the ceiling of the carriage. 

At 2 a.m. I changed round again and 
tried the floor, where I managed to get an 
hour and a half's broken sleep till 3.30, when 
we arrived at Chatham. 

Three- thirty a.m. is a horrid hour, chilly and 
shivery even on an August night. The train 


drew up at a place where the lines ran along 
the road close to the Royal Naval Barracks. 

Yawning, and trying to rub the sleepiness 
out of our eyes, we proceeded to drag our 
cRests out of the luggage vans and pile them 
on the road, while the officer in charge of us 
went to find out what arrangements had been 
made for getting us to our ships. 

In about twenty minutes he returned 
with another officer and informed us that 
none of the ships in question were then 
at Chatham, and we would have to stay at 
the barracks until further instructions were 

For the moment enthusiasm had vanished. 

We were tired and hungry, and, after the 

perfection of clockwork routine to which we 

had been accustomed, this ''war" seemed a 

muddlesome business. However, there was 

no good grousing. We left our chests in 

the road and proceeded to the barracks, where 

we were provided with hammocks and told to 

spread them in the gymnasium. This done, 

B 2 


we took ofF our boots, coats, and trousers and 
were soon fast asleep. 

Of course, things looked a bit brighter in 
the morning — they always do. We were called 
at 7.30, told to dress and wash in the washing- 
place just outside the gym., and to lash up 
our hammocks and stow them away, after 
which we would be shown the way to the 
officers' mess. 

Lashing up the hammocks was a job that 
took some time to accomplish, since it was 
one in which none of us was particularly pro- 
ficient, and, moreover, there was no place to 
sling them. I eventually managed mine by 
lashing the head to the wall bars while I got 
a friend to hold the foot, which done, I per- 
formed the same office for him, and then we 
went to the officers' mess for breakfast. It 
was Sunday, so in the forenoon we went to 
service in the Naval Chapel. Here we had 
to listen to a most lugubrious sermon from a 
parson who seemed under the impression that 
we should all be at the bottom of the sea 


within six months, and had better prepare 
ourselves accordingly ! Of the note, Duke et 
decorum est 'pro patria mori, which, however 
hackneyed, cannot fail to bring courage to 
those setting out to battle, there was not 
the faintest echo, so the whole thing was in 
no wise calculated to raise our spirits. 

This depressing episode ended, we fell in 
outside the barracks and were marched off to 
lunch. * 

We spent the afternoon exploring the 
vicinity, and I, with two friends, climbed up 
to the roof of a sort of tower, where we 
indulged in forbidden but soothing cigarettes. 

That night we again slept in the gym., and 
next morning we were considerably annoyed 
to find that we should not be allowed to take 
our chests to sea. We were given canvas 
kit-bags, into which we had to cram as many 
necessaries as they would hold ; but they cer- 
tainly seemed, and eventually proved to be, 
most inadequate provision for a naval cam- 
paign of indefinite length, conducted in climatic 


conditions varying from tropical to semi- 

The rest of that day was uneventful and 
rather boring. We wrote letters home and 
indulged in more surreptitious smoking : the 
latter with somewhat disastrous results, for one 
of our num.ber having rashlv embarked on a 
pipe, was speedily overtaken by rebellion from 
within, and further, our Lieutenant, having 
detected us in this breach of Naval Regula- 
tions, threatened us with the direst penalties 
if we did not mend our ways. 

Bright and early next morning (Tuesday the 
4th of August) we were informed that half our 
number were to proceed to Devonport to join 
our ships ; so at 9 o'clock we marched down 
to the station to set out on yet another long 
and weary train-journey. We had to change 
at Paddington, and arrived at Devonport 
at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, considerably 
bucked up by the thought that at last we 
should be in real war-ships, and, as genuine, 
though very junior, officers of His Majesty's 


Navy, be privileged to play our small part in 
what, even then, we dimly realised would be 
the greatest war in the history of our nation. 
From the station we marched through the 
town and embarked on an Admiralty tug, 
which took us to the various ships to which 
we had been appointed. Our batch was the 
last to reach its destination, but eventually the 
tug drew alongside the gangway of H.M.S. 
" " and was secured there by ropes. 



There are grey old Admirals in our land 
Who never have stood vt^here now you stand : 
Here on your feet, in His Majesty's fleet, 
With a real live enemy close at hand ! 

Punch : Sept. 1914. 

Hastily we scrambled aboard, in the excite- 
ment of the moment nearly forgetting to salute 
the quarter-deck. Fortunately all recollected 
that ceremony in time, with the exception only 
of one, who was promptly dropped on by the 
Commander — much to his confusion and 

In obedience to the order of the cadet 
captain in charge we " fell in " on the quarter- 
deck while the Commander went below to 
report to the Captain. As we were awaiting 



further instructions the first Lieutenant, who 
was also the Torpedo Lieutenant (commonly 
known in naval slang as " Torps "), came up 
and spoke to us. He told us he would 
probably have to look after us, and said he 
hoped we should like the life on board. We 
all thought he seemed to be a very nice officer 
— an opinion we found no occasion to change, 
and we were all sincerely sorry when, three 
months later, he had the misfortune to fall into 
the hands of the enemy. 

The Commander then reappeared and told 
us to go down to the Captain's cabin. We 
ran down the gangway he had just come up, 
and our cadet captain knocked at the door of 
the after cabin. A voice said " Come in " — 
and Carey entered, leaving us standing outside. 
In a few seconds he returned and beckoned to 
us to follow him. We did so, and came to 
*' attention " facing the Captain, who was seated 
at a knee-hole writing desk. 

He was a small man of middle-age, inclining 
to stoutness, clean shaven, slightly bald, with 


deep-set eyes, which appeared dark in the 
shadow of heavy overhanging eyebrows. 

He eyed us keenly until we were all as- 
sembled, and then, leaning forward towards us, 
he rapped sharply on his desk with a ruler, and 
said in a deep bass voice — 

" Young gentlemen, it is war-time, and you 
have been sent to sea as officers in His 
Majesty's Navy ! " 

He then continued, so far as I can remember, 
to express the hope that we might worthily up- 
hold the traditions of a great service. Further 
he informed us that all our letters would be 
strictly censored ; that our relatives and friends 
would only be able to write to us " Care of the 
General Post Office, London " ; and that on no 
account must we write them one single word 
indicative of the whereabouts or work of the 
ship ; for, under the Official Secrets Act, any 
infringement of this rule rendered us liable in 
the words of the Articles of War to " T)eath — 
or some such other punishment hereinafter 
mentioned ! " 


Then having asked our names, and chosen 
the two seniors — Carey, the cadet captain, and 
Baker — to be signal midshipman and his own 
messenger respectively, he curtly dismissed us. 
The almost complete severance from all home 
ties which the above prohibition implied came 
as a rather unforeseen blow. We knew how 
anxiously our people would be awaiting news 
of our doings ; and to be able to tell them 
practically nothing seemed a hard condition. 
We went away feeling very small and rather 
crestfallen, and I am afraid we thought our 
new Captain rather unnecessarily stern and 
severe, though it was not long before we recog- 
nised the absolute necessity for such restric- 
tions. It must be remembered that at that 
time we were only raw inexperienced boys and 
most of us barely fifteen years old. Later on, 

when we had worked under Captain 's 

command — above all, when we came to know 
of the letters he, in spite of his many and 
onerous duties, had found time to write to our 
mothers — letters so kindly in their sympathy 


and understanding, so generous in their recog- 
nition of our efforts to do our duty — we ap- 
praised him at his true worth ; and when he, 
together with so many of our ship's company, 
gave up his life for England in that disaster in 
which our ship was lost, those of us who sur- 
vived mourned the loss of a true friend, and 
carry in our hearts for all time the honoured 
memory of " a very gallant gentleman." 

When we once more found ourselves on 
deck, we were met by a petty officer, who 
escorted us down the ward-room hatch, and 
showed us the gun-room, which was then 
being stripped of all light woodwork which 
might catch fire or splinter in an action, and 
having the bulkheads shored up with heavy 
pieces of timber. 

We placed our overcoats in a corner, and 
then went up on deck for a look round. 

We were anchored in the centre of the 
Hamoaze, and the tide being at flood, our bow 
pointed down the harbour to Plymouth Sound. 


Various war-ships were dotted about, some, 
like us, in mid-channel, some alongside the 
wharfs. To port the town of Devonport 
could be seen through a mist of masts and 
ropes. To starboard wooded banks, clothed 
with the dense foliage of midsummer, rose 
steeply from the water. The hulls of several 
ancient battle-ships, dating from the time of 
Nelson, and some from even farther back, 
were moored close to the shore. Three old 
four-funnelled cruisers, painted black with 
yellow upper works in the fashion of war-ships 
towards the close of the Victorian Era, con- 
trasted oddly with the sombre grey outline of 
the more modern ships preparing for action. 

At 7.30 we had dinner in the ward-room, 
as the gun-room was not yet ready for occu- 
pation, and at 9 o'clock we turned in. 

Next morning after breakfast the chief 
petty officer, who had shown us the gun-room 
the night before, took us round the ship, 
naming each flat and pointing out the various 
stores, etc. 


By lunch-time the gun-room was ready for 
us, and, that meal over, we " fell in " on the 
quarter-deck and the Commander appointed us 
to our several duties. Carey and Baker 
having already received their appointments 
from the Captain as afore-mentioned, Jones, 
the next senior, was now told ofF to the 
Torpedo Lieutenant as his messenger. Browne 
became the Gunnery Lieutenant's A.D.C., 
and McAlister the Commander's " doggie." 
Wenton was " Tanky," i. e. the navigator's 
assistant, and Barton, Fane, Cunninghame, and 
myself were appointed watch-keepers. 

As we were not expected to take up our 
duties until the following morning, we spent 
the rest of that afternoon watching the cutting 
away of such portions of the fore-bridge as 
were not absolutely indispensable for purposes 
of navigation, the removal of the forward 
searchlights to the shelter deck, and the 
pitching — literally pitching — of the ward-room 
and gun-room furniture into lighters alongside. 
This, I may mention, was performed without 


the slightest consideration for damage to the 
articles in question, for time pressed and every 
minute was of greater value than much fine 
furniture ! It was War. 

On the next morning (Thursday) we en- 
tered upon our respective duties, and I took 
my first " dog-watch." 

In the forenoon the Gunnery Lieutenant had 
us ail assembled in the gun-room and informed 
us that we should all be in the fore trans- 
mitting station (hereafter called the Fore T.S.) 
for action ; that is, all except Carey, who 
would be in attendance on the Captain. Then 
he told us our different jobs and showed us 
how to work the various instruments for 
controlling the guns, after which he showed us 
the way down to the Fore T.S., and, having 
placed us in position before our instruments, 
gave us a trial run of ranges, deflections, and 
the various controls under which the guns 
could be operated in the event of the primary 
control position being shot away or the 
communications cut. 


Then came lunch, followed by another two 
hours' practice in the Fore T.S., and after tea 
more of the same instruction. 

At 5 a.m. on Friday we got under way 
to proceed into dry dock. At about ten 
yards from the mouth of the dock both 
engines were stopped, and our first and second 
cutters lowered. The ends of wire hawsers 
were then conveyed by the cutters from 
capstans, dotted at intervals round the dock, 
to the ship, where they were made fast inboard. 
These capstans had already been manned by 
parties of seamen attached to the dockyard, 
who were commanded by warrant officers. 
They stood by to back up the wire as soon 
as we gave the signal for the capstans to 
heave round, and in this manner the great 
ship was hauled into the dry dock. This 
seemed a ticklish business to the uninitiated, 
it being essential to get the ship exactly central 
in the dock, but the Captain controlled opera- 
tions by signalling from the forebridge, and 
in due time it was accomplished. The ship 


floated motionless in the centre, the great 
caisson was hauled into place, sunk and 
locked, and the powerful centrifugal pumps 
began to drain the *water away. 

After these two hours of hard work we 
went to breakfast with hearty appetites. 

On looking out of a scuttle a little later 
I saw that the water had already dropped 
some six feet and the ship was resting on 
the bottom with about four feet of her sides 
visible below the usual water-line. As she 
had been lying up in Milford Haven for a 
year before the outbreak of war, she was 
in a filthy state, and her sides wer£ thickly 
coated with that long ribbon-like seaweed 
often seen thrown up in masses on the shore 
after a storm. Already the dockyard men 
were placing large pieces of timber between the 
ship's sides and the sides of the dock, wedging 
them tightly so that she would remain upright 
when all the water had been pumped out. 

At 9 o'clock we had to go to "divisions." 
Each of the watch-keepers had a division, and 


the messengers accompanied their officers on 
the rounds of their different departments. 
" Divisions " over, a lecture on first-aid was 
given by the Fleet-surgeen and occupied us 
until lunch-time. 

By 2 o'clock three-quarters of the water 
was out of the dock, and those of us who were 
not on duty went over the brow (i.e. the gang- 
way) and down into the basin to explore and 
have a look at the bottom of the ship. 

A dry dock is constructed with two galleries 
at the top built into the stone-work, and is 
reached by a flight of steps usually standing 
back about twenty feet from the edge. 

Below these galleries comes a series of ledges, 
each one about three feet high and two feet 
deep, leading down to the bottom, which is * 
about ten yards in width. On the centre of 
the dock are a number of wooden blocks, each 
about two feet high and four feet broad, and 
distant about three feet one from the other ; 
on these the keel of the ship rests. A gutter 
just below the ledges drains off any water that 


may leak In. One end of the dock is rounded 
off in a semi-circle, the other narrows into a 
neck where an iron caisson, or hollow water 
gate, locks the entrance and keeps the water out. 
When this gate is to be moved, the water is 
pumped out -of its interior, and it then rises to 
the surface and is hauled out of the way by 
ropes. Near this gate are two big, square holes, 
by means of which the dock is reflooded when 
the ship is ready to go out again. Parties of 
seamen on rafts were already at work scraping 
away the weed from the ship's sides, and others 
were painting the cleared spaces with red lead 
to prevent rust. 

The next day was Sunday, but as ^^e had no 
padre on board there was no church parade, 
and since it was war-time, and we'd got to join 
our Fleet, which had sailed the night before, as 
quickly as possible, the work of scraping and 
painting was continued without intermission. 

During the afternoon we inspected a new 
light cruiser which was in process of construction 
in an adjoining dock. 


At 2 o'clock the following day, the work 
being finished, the water was let in. It came 
rushing through the square opening in a solid 
green mass, to fall with a dull roar into the 
rapidly filling dock. Two hours later the ship's 
keel gradually lifted, and as she rose higher and 
higher the timber props floated free, grinding 
and jostling each other in a manner somewhat 
reminiscent of a Canadian lumber river. Then 
the caisson was pumped dry and towed out 
of the way, and by 4.30 we commenced to 
warp out and went alongside a neighbouring 
wharf, to which by 6.30 we were safely 
secured by ropes. I remember that H.M.S, 

" ," England's latest Dreadnought, which 

had just been launched, was lying in the basin, 
being fitted with engines, guns, etc. With her 
two enormous oval funnels standing out against 
a group of workshops and towering high above 
them, her huge turret guns which still lay along 
the wharf amid a litter of smaller guns, search- 
lights, and armoured plates, she made an 
impressive picture of Britain's sea power. 


A new navigator and two Royal Naval Reserve 
lieutenants joined that night, and their arrival 
completed our full complement of officers. 

It was 6 in the evening when finally our 
warps were cast off, and, running alongside, we 
coaled for half-an-hour, in that time taking in 
seventy tons, and then proceeded to sea with 
coal still stacked high on our decks. Through 
Plymouth Harbour the ship slid like a grey 
ghost — all dead-lights down, and in total 
darkness save for the occasional flashes from 
the shaded arc-lamp which replied to the 
challenges of the torpedo-boat patrol and boom 

Once outside we met the Channel swell, and 
the ship, burying her nose in a huge roller, 
lifted a ton of green swirling water on to the 
fo'c'sle, where it broke into creaming cascades at 
the foot of the fore-turret, smothering the guns 
in white foam and rushing aft on either side, 
until, thrown back from the closed battery 
doors, it sluiced overboard with a baffled roar. 

All hands turned to and stowed the coal in 


the bunkers, after which the decks were washed 
down with hoses and we went below for much- 
needed baths. 

Then came dinner, after which we went to 
night-defence stations. 



As we turned out next morning the white 
cliffs of Portland loomed faintly through the 
mist ahead, and when we were within half a 
mile of the Shambles lightship the seven other 
ships of the fourth battle squadron of the 3rd 
Fleet, to which we also belonged, hove in sight. 

We joined up in station as the third ship of 
the first division, and the whole squadron 
proceeded out to sea in single line. 

When we were about two miles out the 
Admiral signalled from his flagship : '* Form 
divisions in line ahead. Columns disposed to 

So the leading ship of the second division 
drew out of line followed by her consorts, and 
crept slowly upon our port quarter till the two 



lines were steaming parallel at a distance of five 

At 4 o'clock we arrived ofF Cherbourg, 
and a signal was received ordering the second 
division to turn sixteen points and proceed 
down Channel to take up their patrolling 
positions, while the first four ships went up 
Channel to theirs. 

Thus we formed an unbroken line from the 
Straits of Dover to the mouth of the Channel, 
each ship steaming slowly in a circle of five 
miles radius, and keeping always within sight of 
the next ship on either side. 

That evening a beautiful August half-moon 
shone down on the heaving waters and the sky 
was studded with stars. The great arc of the 
Milky Way hung above us, and on the horizon 
the lighthouses of Cherbourg and the Channel 
Islands flashed their intermittent rays, at one 
moment throwing everything into high relief, 
and at the next passing on like great fingers of 
light across the sea before they faded to total 


Next day excitement ran high, for a rumour 
reached us that the great German liner, Vater- 
land^ was going to try and rush the Channel 
under escort of five cruisers ; but she never 
came ; and after five days' patrolling the whole 
fleet reassembled, and forming divisions in line 
ahead, steamed into Portland, arriving there in 
the evening. 

We started coaling at 6 o'clock the following 
morning and finished just before breakfast. 

In the afternoon when I was on watch the 
officer of the watch sent me away in the picket 

boat with dispatches to H.M.S, " ." It 

was the first time I had been in command of 
one of these steamboats, so, thinking discretion 
the better part of valour, I didn't try to steer 
her alongside, but just took the wheel in the 
open and let my cox'un do the rest. 

The whole of our squadron weighed anchor 
next day and put to sea for sub-calibre firing 
just outside the harbour. Sub-calibre firing is 
done by shipping a small gun (which fires 
a shell filled with salt) inside the bore of the- 


big turret and battery guns. This necessitates 

the training and laying of the big guns to fire 

the small guns inside them, and gives practice 

to the gun layers and trainers without wasting 

the large shells and charges, which cost a 

considerable amount of money. We spent the 

whole of that morning in the Fore T.S. working 

out the ranges and deflections received by 

telephone from the control position, and passing 

these through to the gunners to set the sights 

by. After lunch it was assumed that the 

control position was shot away and the guns 

went into local control. This means that the 

officer of each group of guns, and of each 

turret, fires at his own discretion, and corrects 

the range and deflection after watching through 

his glasses the fall of the shells. When the 

Fore T.S. stafli^ receives the order to go to local 

control, or can get no reply from the main 

control which is presumably damaged, they 

pass through the telephones to the guns the 

message " local control." Then they hurry up 

the hatch from the Fore T.S. to the ammu- 


nition passages above, their range clocks slung 
round their necks, and are hoisted up the 
ammunition hoist to the particular group of 
guns to which they have been stationed in the 
event of this emergency. 

Firing practice over we returned to harbour 
and anchored, and the following afternoon 
those of us who were not on duty were allowed 
to go ashore on three hours' leave. 

Next morning the squadron received a signal 
ordering all ships to complete with coal imme- 
diately, and to proceed to sea without delay. 
By 4 o'clock all had weighed and left harbour, 
forming into line in sequence of fleet numbers 
as they cleared the boom. 

That night we steamed at full speed to an 
unknown destination. Everything quivered 
and shook with the pounding of the engines 
and the throbbing of the screws, as we ploughed 
our way through the dark waters, following 
the little white patch where our next ahead's 
shaded stern lamp lit up her creaming wake 
with a dim radiance for about a square yard. 



The next morning we were up betimes, to 
find the whole squadron just entering Plymouth 

As soon as we were anchored we filled up 
with coal again, and the collier had hardly 
shoved off when up came a tug crowded with 
marines in landing kit, and laden with entrench- 
ing tools, barbed wire, ammunition, rifles, field 
guns, and all the varied paraphernalia of a land 

No sooner had we got this party, con- 
sisting of 400 men with their oflicers and 
equipment, safely on board, and stowed all 
their gear away in the batteries, than a provi- 
sion ship came alongside and was quickly 
secured fore and aft. The stump derricks 
were swung outboard, and soon the deck was 
littered with biscuit barrels, sugar casks, cases 
of bully beef, etc., etc. — not forgetting the 
inevitable jam. Willing hands rolled and 
carried all this stuff to hastily rigged derricks 
and davits, whence it was lowered down 
hatches, and thrown through skylights to men 


below, who caught each case as it came, and 
passed it on to others, who stowed it all away 
in the gun-room, the ward-room flat, the 
Captain's cabin, and in fact anywhere and 
everywhere that space was to be found. Even 
so it was impossible to cope immediately with 
the steady stream which poured on deck from 
the capacious hold of the store-ship, although 
officers worked side by side with the men, 
issuing orders at the same time. Finally, 
when at last the store-ship was empty and had 
shoved oiF, and we weighed anchor and put to 
sea with the remainder of the fleet, our decks 
were still piled high with cases, and the work 
of stowing them away went on until 9 o'clock 
that night. There was no time for dinner, 
and while still working we ate ship's biscuit 
from a barrel that had been accidentally broken 

Once everything was safely bestowed below, 
we all went to night-defence stations. 

The whole fleet was proceeding at top speed, 
leaving a gleaming phosphorescent track in its 


wake. Great clouds of luminous spray were 
fiung aft from the fo'c'sle head as our ship 
buried her nose in the waves. The decks 
throbbed and rang to the stamping, pounding 
clang of the engines, and the stern quivered 
and shook with the throb, throb, thrash of the 
racing screws. 

All next day we dashed up the English 
Channel, and early the following morning 
passed up the Straits of Dover. 

A little before noon on the succeeding day, 
the 22nd of August, we passed the United 
States cruiser Carolina returning from Antwerp 
with citizens . of the States, flying from the 
oncoming Huns, and at 8 o'clock we dropped 
anchor in Ostend outer roads. ♦ 

Half an hour later a Belgian steamer, a big 
two-funnelled, cross-channel boat, came along- 
side. Our party of marines, with their officers 
and equipment, were transferred to her, and 
she shoved off for the shore. 

In the inner roads were lying at this time 
a squadron of battle-ships from the 2nd Fleet, 


an aeroplane base ship, and a flotilla of 
destroyers. This squadron weighed anchor 
next morning and proceeded to sea, and shortly 
afterwards we weighed and moved into the 
inner roads. An airship was sighted at about 
1 1 o'clock low down on the horizon, and 
our anti-aerial firing party fell in with loaded 
rifles on the quarter-deck, and the anti-aerial 
three-pounder was manned. 

Tense excitement prevailed for about half- 
an-hour, while the imagined Zeppelin grew 
gradually larger and larger, and nearer and 
nearer ; but it turned out to be our own 
Astra Torres^ so the firing party dismissed and 
the ordinary routine was carried on, while the 
airship flew above us, and came to rest in a 
field to the left of Ostend. 

In the afternoon an aeroplane, flying no flag, 
appeared over the town, and was promptly 
fired at. 

Subsequently it transpired that this, too, was 
one of our own, though I cannot imagine why 
she carried no distinguishing mark, and her 


celebrated pilot was reported to have used 
some very strong language about the marines 
who had forced him to a hasty and undignified 
descent. It was his own fault, anyway — and, 
luckily, neither machine nor airman sustained 
any serious damage. 

Later on one of our destroyers came along- 
side for provisions and oil, and remained 
alongside all that night. 

Next morning a flotilla of enemy submarines 
and destroyers appeared upon the horizon. 
All our ships got ready to weigh, and our 
destroyers and light cruisers went out post 
haste to drive them off. The enemy squadron 
at once turned tail and fled ! All of us mid- 
shipmen and cadets, who were not on duty, 
climbed up to the foretop with telescopes, and 
watched the pursuit, but only a few shots were 
exchanged, and neither side sustained any 
damage. The enemy made all haste in the 
direction of Heligoland, and our flotilla returned 
after a fruitless chase. 

On that afternoon I remember that 1 wit- 


nessed, from the quarter-deck, a sad accident. 
Our picket boat had gone out with those of 
the other ships to sweep for any mines that 
might have been laid. In the evening the boat 
returned, and came alongside the port side 
amidships. There was a heavy sea running, 
and, as a wave lifted the boat, a reel of wire 
hawser used for mine sweeping, which had 
been placed in the bows, got caught in the net 
shelf, and was left ' fixed there as the boat 
descended into the trough of the sea. Next 
time she rose one of the bowmen got his leg 
caught under the reel, and it broke just above 
the ankle. He fell to the deck, but before he 
could be snatched out of danger, the sharp 
edge of the reel again caught his leg three 
inches above the break and half severed it, and 
the next time the boat rose it caught him 
again in the same place, and cut his leg right 

A stretcher was lowered over the side and 
the injured man was carried quickly and care- 
fully down to the sick bay, where it was found 


on examination that the limb was so mangled 
that it was necessary to amputate it just above 
the knee. Poor chap ! that was the end of 
his war-service. It was a tragic and sickening 
thing to witness, but it was no one's fault. 
In fact, the court of inquiry subsequently held 
brought in a verdict of " accidental injury," 
and absolved all concerned from any blame 
in the matter. 

The following afternoon we took on board 
a detachment of 800 marines with their equip- 
ment, and shortly afterwards weighed anchor 
and steamed out of Ostend roads. 

When we went to night-defence stations at 
8 o'clock that night there were marines all 
over the place — sleeping on the deck, and in 
the battery, and, in fact, anywhere there was 
room to lie down. We came across two 
sergeants who had been drill-instructors at 
Osborne College when we were there, and 
had a yarn with them over old times. 

About 9 o'clock rapid firing was heard on 
our starboard bow. 


1 was then stationed at my searchlight on 
the port side just abaft the bridge, and I ran 
up the short gangway and across to the for- 
ward end of the shelter-deck to see what was 
happening. At first it sounded like big guns 
over the horizon, and I thought we had run 
into an action ; but when I got on the bridge 
1 saw that it was the flagship that had fired, 
and was now turning four points to starboard 
to give the other ships a clear range. Our 
helm was now put to port, and we swung off 
in the wake of the flagship. 

Then I heard the captain give the order 
to switch on No. i searchlight, which was in 
charge of Cunninghame, our junior cadet. This 
light was just forward of mine, and I nipped 
back in a hurry in case mine should switch 
on. No. I failed to pick up the object the 
flagship had fired at — which, by the lights it 
was showing, should by rights have been a 
fishing-smack — and his beam was very badly 
focussed. I knew my beam was all right, as 
I had tested it when preparing for night 

C 2 


defence, and, as I had trained on the lights 
in question as soon as I had seen them, when 
the captain ordered me to switch on, my beam 
revealed the object at once. It proved to be 
two German destroyers : one showing the 
lights usually shown by a fishing-smack, the 
other showing no lights at all ! Now the othei*' 
searchlights quickly focussed on the enemy, 
and one of our 12-pounders fired two shots 
in swift succession. A few seconds later I 
saw two flashes in the beam of the searchlights 
where the shells struck the water close to their 
objective, and two white columns of water were 
flung high into the air. Then came a blind- 
ing flash, followed immediately by the sound 
of an explosion : a blast of hot air, smelling 
strongly of cordite, caught me unprepared and 
threw me off my balance. The six-inch gun 
immediately below me had fired without any 
warning. I never saw the fall of that shell 
although, as soon as I had recovered myself, 
I watched the enemy ships carefully. Only 
a minute later one of them fired a torpedo 


at us. For some way we could follow the 
track of bubbles in the gleam of the search- 
lights — then it passed out of the light, and 
there came a moment of breathless suspense. 
Had they got us ? No ! the brute passed 
harmlessly between us and the flagship. - 

Then our aftermost six-inch gun fired, but 
this time I was prepared, and, bracing myself 
against the blast, watched eagerly for the fall of 
the shot. It pitched some hundred yards from 
the torpedo-boats — ricochetted like a stone — 
hit the second of them right amidships and 
exploded : and the enemy craft simply vanished 
from the face of the waters ! A jolly lucky 
shot ! The other destroyer evidently thought 
so anyway, for, extinguishing her lights on the 
moment, she dashed away at full speed and 
was lost to sight in the darkness. 

Presumably pursuit was useless, for shortly 
afterwards we extinguished our searchlights 
and proceeded on our way without encounter- 
ing any more excitement. 

The next day, which we spent at sea, was 


quite uneventful, and on the following even- 
ing we entered Spithead. 

Here, with the last rays of the setting sun 
illuminating their pale grey 'hulls, lay the whole 
of the 2nd Fleet at anchor off Portsmouth. 
We had parted company with the two last 
ships o£ our division just outside, they having 
gone on to Portland and Plymouth respec- 
tively, and we entered Portsmouth in the wake 
of the flagship, lining ship and dipping our 
ensign as we passed the old Victory^ and shortly 
afterwards dropping anchor in the harbour. 

That night we disembarked all the marines. 



Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the north-west died 

away ; 
Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay ; 
Bluish 'mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay ; 
In the dimmest north-east distance, dawned Gibraltar 

grand and gray ; 
"Here and here did England help me, — how can I help 

England ? — say." 

R. Browning. 

Next day we took on 400 tons of coal, and 
in the evening weighed and proceeded to 
Portland, where we arrived next morning. 

That evening the whole of the 2nd Fleet 
arrived and anchored, and on the following 
morning the second division of our squadron 
went out again for sub-calibre firing, the first 
division remaining at anchor. In the evening 



the Padre came on board to join. The second 
division returned to harbour at 4 o'clock, 
and at about 7 p.m. we received a signal 
ordering all ships in harbour to raise steam 
for fifteen knots and proceed to sea as soon 
as they were ready. 

On our ship the hoisting in of all boats 
was commenced at once. The picket boat 
came in without a hitch, but, when the pinnace 
was hoisted clear of the water the after leg 
of the slings parted and she had to be lowered 
back. As we were in a hurry the Commander 
then took control of operations, and had a 
3|-inch wire hawser rove three times round 
the stern of the boat, and then made fast to 
the ring at the head of the slings. When she 
was once more lifted clear of the water her 
stern was heard to crack, but we were already 
delaying the fleet and no time could be spared 
to lower her down again and readjust the 
hawser, so, though the stern continued to crack 
and give, and finally crushed in like an egg- 
shell, the boat was hoisted and lowered into 


the crutches, and we proceeded to sea with the 

This incident was pure bad luck and not 
due to faulty seamanship — had the pinnace 
been a new boat the stern would easily have 
withstood the strain, but she was nearly twenty 
years old and her planks were weakened by age. 

On the next day the whole fleet did big gun 
practice in the Channel. Down in the Fore 
T.S. the sound was considerably deadened, 
but the violent vibrations and the increase of 
air pressure following on each discharge had 
a most jarring and unpleasant effect on the 
ear-drums. The ships did not fire all together, 
but each in succession had a " run " of one 
hour. When we had finished our "run" all 
of us midshipmen and cadets went on deck 
to watch the firing of the flagship of our 
division, which was just ahead of us. Although 
the actual cordite charge is practically smoke- 
less, the silk bag in which the sticks of 
explosive are encased gives off a dense light- 
brown smoke, which often hides the whole 


turret from view, and the flash of the explo- 
sion, even in daylight, causes a vivid glare 
almost like lightning. The gases do not burst 
into flame until they have passed some ten 
feet from the muzzle and come in contact with 
the oxygen in the atmosphere, when they flare 
up in a fraction of a second. Occasionally a 
gun will blow a huge smoke ring which, 
gyrating rapidly, ascends to a considerable 
height, gradually expanding until it is dis- 
persed by the air. This phenomenon was 
very noticeable later on in the Dardanelles. 

The following day we did fleet tactics (pro- 
nounced *' Tatties ") ofF the Isle of Wight. 
These consist of manoeuvres executed in 
columns. Each successive evolution is sig- 
nalled by the flagship and is performed as 
soon as the whole fleet has repeated the signal 
and the flagship has hauled down the flags 
indicating the same. Throughout each opera- 
tion the ships must keep within a specified 
number of cables' lengths of each other. 

That evening found us off Beachy Head, 


and having finished tactics we headed for 
Portland, proceeding in divisions in line ahead, 
columns disposed abeam to starboard. We 
dropped anchor in Portland the following 
day. Then the colliers came alongside and 
the whole fleet coaled. 

As we had not yet done our second run of 
sub-calibre firing we left harbour next morning, 
and spent the day at sea for purposes of same. 
During our absence the whole personnel of the 
2nd Fleet and the remaining division of our 
squadron went for a route march. 

At 4 o'clock we returned to harbour, 
anchored, and took in coal until our bunkers 
were filled to 97 per cent. Next morning our 
division landed its ships' companies for a 
route march at the Camber. The men fell in 
in marching kit under their respective officers, 
and according to the seniority of their ships in 
the Fleet. (Seniority of ships is determined by 
the seniority of their commanding officers.) 
When all were present, and had been duly 
reported to the officer in command, the band of 


the flagship led off with a lively march tune, 
closely followed by her ship's company. Then 
the other ships' companies followed in succes- 
sion, and soon the whole 1500 men were 
proceeding along the white dusty road from 
Portland to Weymouth. Presently an order to 
" March at ease ! " and " Carry on smoking ! " was 
passed down the line, and the men produced 
their pipes, lit up, and were soon laughing, 
chattering, and singing as they marched, keeping, 
however, always in correct sections of four. 
On entering Weymouth the order " 'Shun ! 
Out pipes ! " was given, and the whole column 
swung along in absolute silence, broken only by 
an occasional order, and the tramp, tramp, tramp 
of the heavy marching boots on the dusty road. 

We marched through the town to the pier, 
where we embarked on penny steamboats, 
commandeered for the purpose, which conveyed 
us back to the Fleet in Portland. 

On the following day special steamers were 
run to Weymouth for the convenience of those 
who wished to go ashore ; and, our leave-book 


having been signed, all of us junior officers 
who were not on duty forthwith donned our 
best clothes and embarked for the beach. On 
arrival the first thing we did was to storm the 
well-known establishment of IVTessrs. Gieve, 
Matthews, and Seagrove, Naval Outfitters 
(better known perhaps as just " Gieves's " ), and 
there order tin uniform cases, as already those 
silly kit-bags had proved most inadequate, as 
well as highly destructive to clothes. Not 
much chance of a swanky crease down your 
best trousers if you have to keep them in a kit- 
bag ! You'll get the creases all right — plenty 
of them, but they won't be in the right place. 
The Navy is particular about these things, and 
does not allow slackness in detail even in war- 
time. It's the same in the Army — our men's 
anxiety to wash and shave whenever possible 
has been a source of some astonishment to our 
Allies ; but somehow cleanliness and neatness 
seem to be an essential part of a Briton's make- 
up — the outward and visible sign of a heart for 
any fate. 


When we had finished our business at Gieves's 
we went round the town ; looked in at cinema 
shows, bought many small necessaries we 
needed, and devoured eggs, cakes, and cups of 
chocolate at various confectioners'. Leave was 
up at 8 o'clock and wc re-embarked on the 
steamer. Several of the seamen had imbibed 
more strong drink than they could carry, and 
three marines had a free fight on deck sur- 
rounded by sympathetic friends. One of the 
combatants on being " downed " violated 
Queensberry rules by kicking his opponents in 
the stomach, whereupon the victims of this out- 
rage determined to throw him in the " ditch." 
( " Ditch " or " pond " is naval slang for the 

This resolution was heartily applauded by 
the audience, and would undoubtedly have 
been put into execution had not the steamer 
just at this juncture run alongside their ship. 
Still fighting they disappeared up the gang- 
way. Five minutes later we drew alongside 
our own ship, and, having reported ourselves 


to the officer of the watch, we went down to 

Two more days were spent in harbour, and 
several of the uniform cases arrived, but as yet 
no sign of mine. On the evening of the second 
day we weighed anchor and proceeded to Devon- 
port, arriving there next morning. By this 
time our damaged pinnace had been sufficiently 
patched up for a short journey, and it was 
hoisted out and towed ashore carrying a demand 
for another. 

We then coaled. 

The light cruiser " ," which we had previ- 
ously seen in dry dock, being now completed, 
was lying alongside one of the wharves, looking 
very workmanlike in her fresh grey paint. 

Presently our new pinnace arrived, and as 
soon as she was hoisted in-board we went to 
sea again. 

Sunset on the following evening found us 
off Falmouth, where we sighted five old two- 
funnelled cruisers. We stopped and waited 
while the flagship sent her steamboat to the 


cruiser's flagship for dispatches, and then we 
relieved them on the Lizard patrol. 

Soon the cruisers were on the horizon steam- 
ing towards Devonport, and, spreading out from 
the rest of our division, we took the second 
billet from Land's End, and patrolled up and 
down all that night. From time to time we 
caught a glimpse of the loom of the Lizard 
light, and on this we kept station, being unable 
to see any of our consorts. 

Our present duty was to stop any ships 
proceeding up Channel and to examine their 
papers and cargo. Any ships containing con- 
traband of war of whatever description were 
promptly escorted into Falmouth Harbour and 
handed over to the port authorities, who de- 
tained or confiscated them according to the 
requirements of the case. Fane, one of our 
midshipmen, was one of the boarding ofBcers, 
and very quaint and warlike he looked ! He 
was quite a little chap, and was armed with 
a huge cutlass and a revolver nearly as big as 
himself ! 


On the next day we stopped several tramps 
and cargo-boats, but discovered nothing sus- 
picious. Two days later, however, the board- 
ing officers were summoned at 4 a.m. and 
disappeared on deck armed to the teeth, and at 
6, when the rest of us were just turning out, 
they came clattering down the hatchway with 
the news that we had caught a big Dutch 
liner called the Gehria^ and that she had 400 
German reservists on board. 

As soon as we were dressed we dashed up on 
deck to have a look at her. She was a large 
ship with two yellow funnels, with a light blue 
band round each, and must have displaced quite 
20,000 tons. She was lying about a mile away 
on our starboard quarter. We put a prize 
crew on board and proudly escorted her Into 
Falmouth, where we handed her over to the 
port authorities. 

After this we coaled, and the same evening 
put to sea. Just as we were clearing the 
harbour a torpedo-boat signalled us asking to 
come alongside, and stating that she had on 


board a subaltern of marines for us. We 
stopped both engines, and a few seconds later 
the torpedo-boat lay-to about a hundred yards 
off. The second cutter was lowered and pulled 
across to her and returned shortly afterwards 
with the marine officer. Then the cutter 
was hoisted to the davits, the ship got under 
way again and we went to night-defence 

When we were about two miles clear of the 
harbour we sighted on our starboard quarter 
the lights of a steamer which was rapidly 
overhauling us. 

We challenged twice according to code, and 
then signalled her to stop. She returned no 
reply, but continued on her course. As by 
this time she had passed us and was some way 
ahead, the Captain gave the order to fire a 
i2-pounder blank cartridge. The first gun 
misfired and the crew moved away to the 
second and loaded it, leaving the cartridge that 
had misfired in the other gun in case it should 
go off later. Sure enough, just as the second 


gun fired, the first went off on its own, and 
the two together produced a row almost like 
a turret-gun firing. This, however, only made 
the suspect increase her speed, so our Captain 
rang down to the engine-room " Full speed 
ahead ! " and we again gave chase. But she 
had the legs of us. As we did not overhaul 
her the Captain ordered another blank to be 
fired, and telephoned the engine-room to get 
every possible ounce of speed out of our old 
ship. The third blank failed to stop the run- 
away and a shell was then fired across her bows, 
but j/z7/ she did not stop, and since she was 
now out of range we were reluctantly compelled 
to abandon the chase. 

At this time all we midshipmen and cadets 
were not doing night watches, and at 10 
o'clock we had turned in as usual, but at 
11.30 we were awakened by Browne, who told 
us all to get on deck at once as Night Action 
had been sounded off half-an-hour before, 
and he wanted to know why on earth we 
hadn't turned out at 1 1 when the sentry had 


called him. As a matter of fact the sentry 
had only awakened half of us, and those had 
gone up on deck leaving the rest still sleeping 
in blissful ignorance of the summons. How- 
ever we were all feeling very tired, and after 
consulting among ourselves decided that we 
were not going up on deck for anyhdy^znd, 
as they had managed without us for half-an- 
hour, they could jolly well manage without us 
for the remainder of the watch ! With which 
incipient mutiny we turned over and went to 
sleep again. But not for long f In a very few 
minutes the Gunnery Lieutenant appeared on 
the scene, and brusquely rousing us up told 
us to dress at once, fall in on the quarter- 
deck, and wait there till he came. A few 
minutes after we were fallen in he came aft 
through the battery and asked us what the 
devil we meant by not turning out when 
Browne told us to, and went on to give us a 
proper dressing down, ending with the dis- 
quieting remark that he would probably have 
to report us to the Commander. Then tell- 


ing us we were to keep the whole of the 
middle watch as a punishment, he sent us off 
to our searchlights. 

We were all somewhat nervous as to what 
might be the consequence of our silly little 
show of independence, but it is to be pre- 
sumed that " Guns," in consideration of our 
youth and inexperience, kept the matter to 
himself. Anyway we heard no more about it, 
and having duly kept the middle watch, went 
back to our interrupted slumbers — a thoroughly 
chastened quintette. In the light of a fuller 
knowledge of the strictness of naval discipline I 
know we were jolly lucky to get ofF so lightly. 

The following day was spent at sea, and, 
save for the stopping of an occasional tramp 
or small sailing vessel, passed without incident ; 
but the next evening we sighted a large 
German four-masted barque and gave chase 
at once, and we were just drawing within 
signalling distance of her when we received a 
wireless miCssage ordering us to proceed at once 
to Gibraltar. 


Reluctantly abandoning the chase of our 

prize we signalled to H.M.S. " -," which 

was patrolling on our starboard side, to capture 
her, after which we went south full speed 
ahead for Gib. 

I know I should here give dates, but since 

all my diaries lie with the good ship " " at 

^he bottom of the sea, and I am reconstructing 
this narrative from memory, I find it a little 
difficult to be certain of actual dates. How- 
ever, it would be on, or about, the 9th of 
September, or thereabouts, when we were 
ordered abroad. 

Great excitement prevailed in the gun-room, 
as this was our first trip out of home waters. 

The dreaded Bay of Biscay belied its sinister 
reputation, for we had a very calm passage, 
and two days later sighted Cape St. Vincent. 
Here we saw several whales frolicking about 
and blowing quite close to the ship. We 
passed so near to the Cape that we could 
distinguish the figures ot the lighthouse 
keepers on the roof of their house. 


In the afternoon we sighted the smoke of 
several steamers right ahead of us, and pre- 
pared forthwith to go to action stations in 
case they should prove to be hostile war-ships. 
However, on closer inspection, they turned 
out to be a convoy of our own troops from 
India, bound for Southampton. 

The following noon we entered the Straits, 
and soon afterwards turned into the Bay of 
Gibraltar. Warping through the narrow 
entrance by means of wire hawsers, we arrived 
in the outer basin, where we were secured 
head and stern alongside one of the coaling 

The sun was sinking, and the town was 
already grey in the shadow, but the summit 
of the famous Rock was flooded with rosy 

On the afternoon of the next day the captain 
of marines kindly volunteered to take us to 
a good shop he knew of where we could buy 
some white-duck suits, which we were likely 
to need in the near future. 


Arrived at the shop in question, the 
proprietor thereof informed us, with much 
shrugging of shoulders, waving of hands, and 
similar gesticulations expressive of regret, that 
he had no ducks in stock, but that at another 
shop a little farther on we might be able to 
obtain them. The owner of the place indi- 
cated could only produce some very badly 
cut civilian duck suits, and asked exorbitant 
prices for the same. With these we had to 
make shift, and after much bargaining each of 
us managed to procure two pairs of trousers 
and three coats for the sum of £^. 

We then proceeded to the barracks, where 
after some delay we managed to secure fairly 
cheap sun helmets. 

It being now only just 3 o'clock we de- 
cided to ring up the ship from the dockyard 
gate, and ask for leave for the rest of the 

After trying for half-an-hour to get on, and 
then to drive the nature of our request into 
the thick head of the signalman at the other 


end of the 'phone, we thought it would be 
best to return to the ship to obtain the re- 
quired permission. On the way, however, 
we were lucky enough to meet our Captain, 
who asked if we had managed to get our white 
suits, and on our replying in the affirmative 
he inquired what we intended doing with 
ourselves for the rest of the afternoon. We 
told him that we were on our way back to 
the ship to ask the Commander for leave, 
whereupon he at once told us we might have 
leave until 7, and having advised us to try 
a bathe in Rosia Bay, he passed on. 

Joyfully returning to the town, we hired 
three of the funny little cabriolets, which are 
practically the only public vehicles to be had, 
and drove off to the bathing-place. 

Rosia Bay is a small inlet with very deep 
water, and is surrounded by walls to keep out 
sharks. It is reached by a long spiral staircase 
which winds round an old tower and through 
an ancient stone archway. A broad stone 
promenade runs round the bay, and at the 


extreme end of this, on the left-hand side, are 
situated the gentlemen's dressing-rooms. Here 
an old Spaniard, locally known as '' Jose," 
hires out towels and bathing-dresses. Several 
wooden rafts are moored in the bay for the 
convenience of bathers, and there are also two 
or three spring-boards as well as a water-chute. 
The water is cold, even in September ; but the 
sun was so hot that we were able to lie on the 
stone and bask in its rays until we got warm 
again and were ready for another plunge. 
After an hour's swimming we split up into 
parties of twos and threes and returned to the 
town for tea. Fruit hawkers dogged our steps, 
and but little persuasion was required to induce 
us to buy the delicious grapes, pears, and 
peaches they pressed upon our notice. After 
tea we walked through the town and bought 
curios at the quaint little native stalls and 

That night forty boys from the Naval 
Barracks joined the ship, and, there being 
nowhere else for them to sleep, they were told 


to sling their hammocks in the gun-room flat, 
while we, its rightful occupants, were ordered 
to go up above to the ward-room flat and the 
Captain's lobby. At first we were mightily 
indignant at thus being turned out of our 
sleeping quarters, but later on, when we got 
into the Tropics, we saw that we had the 
advantage, for it was ever so much cooler up 
there, and we were correspondingly thankful. 
After dinner we went over the brow on to the 
wharf, and thence on to the sea-wall, which 
was hidden from the ship by a high brick 
parapet, which ran along behind the coaling 
sheds, and here we settled down to smoke and 
fish. Presently two sentries came along. On 
seeing us they stopped and palavered together 
for some minutes. Then one of them advanced 
towards us and shouted out, " Halt ! Who 
goes there ? " Considering that we were all 
quietly sitting down, this seemed remarkably 
silly ; but I suppose he was a raw recruit, and. 
just brought out the regular challenge which 
he had learned by heart, and never thought of 



varying it to suit the occasion ! However, we 
informed him that we were naval officers and 
not German spies, and he retired seemingly 
much relieved in his mind. 

Leave was given again on the following 
afternoon, and after another bathe in Rosia Bay 
we had a look at the surrounding country, went 
a little way up the Rock, returned to ,the* town 
for tea, and so on board again at 7. 

Early next morning we bathed from the 
ship's side, and, after breakfast, coaled ; and 
that afternoon we warped out. 

After rounding Europa Point our course was 
set parallel to the African coast ; and then we 
steamed away, our wake crimsoned by the rays 
of the setting sun. 

The morning found us still in sight of land, 
but gradually it faded away on our starboard 
bow until, on the following morning, the coast- 
line had vanished and we steamed along on a 
glassy sea and beneath a cloudless sky. I 
remember I had the forenoon watch, and from 
my post on the bridge I could see the flying 


fish leaping away on either side as our ship 
forged her way through the deep blue waters, 
and a shark appeared on our port bow, 
swimming lazily alongside, his dorsal fin every 
now and then breaking the surface into tiny 
ripples. The water was so clear that every 
detail of his long, wicked-looking body was 
distinctly visible. 

That evening^ we sighted Cape Blanco, and 
shortly after dark passed between the lights of 
Cape Bon and the southern point of Sicily. 



At 2 a.m. on the following morning we 
stopped both engines just outside Valetta 
Harbour ; the guard-boat came alongside and 
gave us instructions to proceed to Port Said, 
and there, after an uneventful voyage, we 
duly arrived three days later. 

Entering the harbour at sunrise, and passing 
between the long breakwaters which run out 
into the sea to mark the dredged channel, we 
anchored close to the eastern shore. Then 
lighters, filled with coal and manned by natives, 
came alongside and were secured four to each 
side of the ship. Presently gang-planks were 
placed between the inboard lighters and the 
deck, and the natives filled little baskets with 
coal, balanced them on their heads, ran up the 


gang-planks and tipped the coal into the 
bunkers. It was our first experience of Eastern 
methods — frankly we thought them rather 
finicky ! However they got the coaling finished 
by 2 o'clock and we asked the Commander for 
leave to go ashore. This, however, he firmly 
refused, and made us draw a section of the 
ship instead, which seemed adding insult to 
injury ! 

Note by Mother : Half-a-score of wild 
middies on the loose at Port Said of all places I 
What a wise commander ! 

In the evening we weighed anchor and, taking 
on a pilot, proceeded through the Canal. Great 
expanses of open water, broken occasionally by 
long sand-spits, stretched away on either side. 
The banks of the Canal are raised some six feet 
above the water level and are about twenty feet 
wide. On our starboard, or the Egyptian side, 
ran a caravan road overshadowed by plane and 
palm trees, and we saw several camels being 
driven along by Arabs in picturesque flowing 


garments. Presently the sun dipped below the 
horizon and turned the wide expanse of water 
to the colour of blood. Gradually this faded 
away and slowly disappeared, and only a 
beautiful rosy glow was left in the sky 
above us. 

Little signal stations connected with each 
other by telephone are placed every mile or so 
along the Canal, and at each of these it has been 
widened to allow of two ships passing each 
other, but in order to do this it is necessary 
for one of the ships to tie up to the bank. 
We, being on special duty, were allowed to go 
straight through, and any craft we encoun- 
tered was obliged to tie up and make way for us. 

At this time we had taken to sleeping on 
deck because of the heat, and in the middle of 
that night I woke up just as we were passing 
three Indian troopships which were tied up to 
the eastern bank of the Canal. 

A gorgeous full moon was shining down 
on the desert, silvering the sand, and making 
everything almost as clear as in daylight. 


There was no sound to break the silence save 
the gentle lippety-lap of our wash against the 
banks. I got up and leant over the shelter 
deck watching the desert as we slipped by. 
I used to imagine somehow that the desert was 
flat, but of course it isn't ! 

Every now and then we would pass a tall 
palm tree showing up in deep relief against the 
rolling sand-hills, and sometimes a sleeping 
Arab and his camel. Presently we passed into 
the Bitter Lakes, when all around us stretched 
placid water, the channel being marked out 
with red and green lights dwindling away in 
dim perspective to the horizon. Towards dawn 
a little chill, sighing breeze sprang up, and I 
returned to my slumbers. . 

Next morning, as we drew near Suez, the 
view was glorious. Mile on mile of billowing 
sand, golden now in the fierce rays of the sun, 
stretched away on either side, the banks being 
clothed with sparse vegetation. 

Soon after breakfast we passed out of the 
Canal and into Suez Bay, where a large convoy 


lay at anchor waiting to proceed to Port 

That evening found us far down the Gulf of 
Suez, and Mount Sinai appeared on our star- 
board beam. Next day we were in the Red 
Sea, where we found it appallingly hot. Every 
morning we used to bathe in a canvas bath 
which was rigged up on the quarter-deck and 
filled with sea-water. We had our first 
experience of that most objectionable thing 
called "prickly heat" here, and did not like 
it at all ! 

Three days later we received a wireless 
message saying that it was believed that the 
Koenigsbergy a German raiding cruiser, v/as 
coaling in Jidda, a port in Arabia, on the banks 
of the Red Sea. At the time that we received 
this message, Jidda bore about six points on 
our starboard bow, so setting our course 
straight for it, we arrived off this little harbour 
about 4 p.m. It is the port for Mecca, and is 
very difficult to navigate owing to its many 
shifting sandbanks. 


By 1; o'clock, having worked our way In as 
far as it was advisable to go, we lowered our 
pinnace, which, under the command of one 
of our lieutenants who was accompanied by 
a subaltern of marines, proceeded into the 
harbour. All eyes were eagerly fixed on the 
one steamer visible In the harbour, but even 
the most sanguine among us could see that it 
was not a war-ship of any description. However, 
we all hoped for some definite news from the 
British Consul as to the whereabouts of the 
German cruiser. But we were doomed to 
disappointment, for soon after dark the pinnace 
returned, and the Lieutenant reported that the 
said Consul — a rather sly Arab — denied that 
the German ship had been there. The Lieu- 
tenant had also interviewed the port autho- 
rities, but they could — or would — give no news, 
and he had examined the solitary steamer, 
which proved to be a British cargo-boat which 
had come In the day before. So we hoisted 
the pinnace, weighed anchor, and proceeded 

on our way, horribly disappointed and rather 

D 2 


disheartened. We felt it was high time that 
something other than mere voyaging, however 
pleasant, should come our way. 

Two days later we sighted H.M.S. " ," 

and shortly after passing Perim Island we 
went through the " Gates of Hell " in her 

The narrow straits bearing this sulphurous 
nickname, and properly called the Straits of 
Bab-el-Mandeb, are situated at the end of the 
Red Sea and at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden. 

When we got clear into the gulf we sighted 
a steamer and our consort went in chase of it, 
leaving us to continue our course for Aden, 
which we reached at 5 o'clock. 

Here we had to anchor by the bows and 
moor our stern to a buoy, but by the time we 
had lowered the cutter, which was to take the 
wire hawser to the buoy in question, our 
stern had swung round and was nearly half a 
mile away from it, and the crew could not pull 
against the long length of sagging wire behind 


The picket boat was lowered as quickly as 
possible and took the cutter in tow, but by this 
time our stern had nearly drifted aground. 
Rapid orders were passea from the bridge to 
the quarter-deck, and at last we saw one of the 
cutter's crew leap on to the buoy and shackle 
the hawser to the ring. Then the after capstan 
began to heave round, and slowly the wire rose 
out of the water and tautened. Very gradually 
the stern began to swing back ; but it was a long, 
slow job, as much care was needed to prevent 
the hawser from parting. By 9 o'clock, how- 
ever, everything was secured, the ship lay 
peacefully on the still waters of the harbour, 
and we all went down to dinner. 

We were up early next morning for our first 
good look at Aden. What an arid place ! 
Great mountains tower above the town to a 
height of several thousand feet. Not a leaf, 
not a tree to be seen — no crap of vegetation, 
no glimpse of green save only a small patch of 
some kind of grass, just opposite the landing 
stage. Truly the place is suitably immortalised 


In the name of that famous pipe-tune, " The 
Barren Rocks of Aden I " 

In the afternoon we went ashore to have a 
look at the town. The streets are very dusty 
and camels provide practically the only means 
of transport. The houses are mostly built of 
stone quarried out of the mountains behind, 
and in the native quarter the architecture is 
somewhat after the pagoda style. We returned 
to the ship to find natives already busy coaling 
her, and that night, as the wind was blowing 
the right way to carry the coal-dust over the 
bow, we thought we might safely sleep on the 

Coaling went on all night and the wind must 
have shifted, for, when I woke in the morning, 
the first thing I saw was my next-door neigh- 
bour with a face like a sweep's ! He looked 
most awfully funny, and I started roaring with 
laughter at him before suddenly realising that 
I was myself in a similar plight ! So, indeed, 
were we all. You never saw such a disre- 
putable, dirty-looking lot of ruffians in your 


life ! Hair, hands, faces and clothes simply 
smothered in coal-dust ; and amid much 
.mutual chafF and laughter we went below to 

That afternoon we v/eighed anchor and 
sailed for Bombay, arrived there about a week 
later, and dropped anchor in the early morning 
while it was still dark ; and coaling by native 
labour began again at once. 

Daylight revealed • a huge convoy of over 
sixty ships assembled in the harbour and 
shepherded by one of our battle-ships. 

In the afternoon native merchants came 
aboard bringing deck-chairs, mosquito-jiets and 
other less useful things for sale. By the advice 
of the surgeons we all supplied ourselves with 
mosquito-nets, and many of us also bought 
deck-chairs and mats. 

That evening the whole of the convoy 
mentioned above got under wiy, and we, 

together with H.M.S. " ," formed their 

escort. After a voyage of little more than a 
week we sighted H.M.S. " ," who took 


our place, while we, separating from the main 
body, took half the convoy down towards 
Tanga. One of the troopships was very 
slow and could only do about seven-and- 
a-half knots, which delayed the convoy a 

Four days later we crossed the Equator, 
and here the time-honoured ceremony « of 
" crossing the line " took place. All who have 
not been over the line before, officers and men 
alike, have to be ducked and submitted to 
various other indignities before they can be 
considered " freemen " of the Sea King's 

On the previous night officers and men 
impersonating Neptune and his Court had 
paraded the ship with an impromptu band, 
and in the morning a huge canvas bath was 
rigged up on the fo'c'sle, with a rude throne 
for Neptune at one end. After lunch the 
fun began. The bears were already splashing 
about in the bath ready to duck the neophytes 
when Neptune and his staff had finished with 


them. One of our lieutenants was the first 
victim. The Sea King, gorgeously arrayed in 
red and yellow bunting, with a cardboard 
crown set on his hempen wig, asks each in 
turn if he has ever crossed the line before, 
but no sooner does the unfortunate open his 
mouth to reply, than a large brush dripping 
with whitewash is slapped in his face ! He is 
then liberally whitewashed all over by Nep- 
tune's merry men and tipped over backwards 
into the bath. 

Here the bears seize upon him and pass 
him along to the other end, each one ducking 
him as he goes, after which his ordeal is 
finished, and he can watch his messmates being 
served in the same way. 

Our Gunnery Lieutenant at first hid, but he 
was soon routed out and carried, kicking and 
struggling, before the tribunal. He had 
reason to regret his attempt to shirk, for by 
this time the whitewash had run out, so he 
was treated to a plastering of black paint, 
sand, and water instead ; and, further, given a 


spoonful of " medicine " made up of mustard, 
pepper, salt, oil, and sea-water all mixed 
together, after which he was duly tipped 
backwards into the bath ! 

Maybe sober-minded people ivill think all this 
very silly — childish — almost improper in view of 
the serious business on which they were engaged. 
But let it be remembered that^ in the words of 
Kipling : " The Navy is very old and very wiseT 
She cherishes her traditions^ and knows well that 
the observance of an old ceremony in which officers 
and men take part without distinction of class tends 
to foster that immortal spirit of comradeship which 
is one of the most valuable assets of the service^ 
and by no means the least important secret of our 
sea-power. For the rest^ time enough to think of 
War when the call to " action " has been sounded 
off. They work best who know how to play. 

The ,. performance lasted until 4 o'clock, 
when we all went below, changed, and had 


We had now been at sea for a little over a 
fortnight, and fresh water was getting very 
scarce. By order of the Commander all 
washing of clothes had already been forbidden ; 
but on the next day the rain came. It was 
practically the first since we left Bombay, and 
it rained m a truly tropical manner, coming 
down literally in sheets. 

All officers who were not on duty turned up 
on the quarter-deck in a state of nature, with 
large bundles of dirty clothes under their arms, 
which they promptly set to work to scrub and 
wash. Our quarter-deck awning was spread, 
and soon quite a lot of water collected in it. 
When I had finished washing my clothes it 
occurred to me that the awning would be a 
good place for an impromptu bath. I had 
just finished and surrendered my place to 
Wenton when the Commander came through 
the battery dodr, and was considerably annoyed 
at finding the awning being put to this use, 
and he promptly gave orders that no one else 
should bathe there. 


The welcome downpour lasted for a little 
over an hour, and was greatly appreciated. 

On the following day our starboard condenser 
developed several leaky tubes, and for that 
day we had to draw out of line to port and 
paddle along with only one engine while it was 
repaired. Unfortunately, no sooner was this 
completed than the other condenser gave out, 
and we had to haul out of line again on the 
Other side^ with only our starboard engine 
working. This left us with only two days' 
boiler, and three days' drinking-water, and we 
were still a good four days from Tanga, so we 

sent out a wireless message to H.M.S. " ," 

a cruiser which we knew was in the vicinity, to 
com.e and relieve us. 

As the Captain had to go over on business 
to the s.s. Karmala, one of the convoy, we 
were lowering a cutter to take him there when 
the forward falls parted and the boat promptly 
swung down perpendicularly, hurling the crew 
out. All but one of the men managed to grab 
hold of the life-lines and haul themselves into 


safety ; but for the one in question the life- 
buoys were immediately let go, and the other 
cutter in charge of the navigator was hastily 
lowered. However, after all, the' man had 
managed to grab one of the bottom lines, and 
clambered up the side pf the ship, safe and 
sound ; but it took us a long time to recover 
all our life-buoys ! 

Next morning the cruiser to which we had 
wired appeared on the horizon in answer to our 
summons, and steamed towards us. She lay to 
about half-a-mile away, and our Captain, with 
the captain of marines, went away in a boat to 
the Karmala^ to confer with her captain and the 
captain of the cruiser. They returned about 
11.30 a.m., and that evening we got under way 
and proceeded to Mombasa, which was two 
days' voyage distant, the convoy being left in 
charge of the cruiser. 

On the following morning Barton and I were 
fallen in on the quarter-deck, and the Captain 
rated us midshipmen, which entitled us to wear 
the coveted white patches, indicative of that 


rank, on the collars of our uniform. Up till 
then we had only been rated as naval cadets, 
though some of the seniors had received their 
step earlier. It also entitled us to a slight — 
very slight — increase in the rate of our not too 
munificent pay ! On that day, too, we all 
changed round duties, the messengers becoming 
watch-keepers, and vice versa. 

I was appointed messenger to the Gunnery 
Lieutenant, who sent for me next morning and 
told me that our ship was going to act as 
defence ship to the harbour while she was in 
Mombasa, and, since it was impossible to see 
anything of the open sea from the port, it had 
been decided to send three officers out to Ras 
Kilmain, the lighthouse point, and that they 
should camp there and set iip a range-finder 
and dumaresque. They would be able to 
communicate with the ship by telephone to 
Kilindini, the landing-place in the harbour, 
where signalmen would be posted to pass on 
any messages. " Guns " said he was sending 
the assistant gunnery lieutenant on this job, as 


well as Browne, who had been his messenger 
for the first three months of the cruise, and 
myself. I was delighted with this information, 
as it promised to be an interesting job, and 
camp-life would in any case be a very pleasant 
change after the long weeks we had been on 
board ship. Then he told me to help him to 
make a large map of the island. The plan was 
that one of us should take the range and 
bearing of any enemy ship that appeared, 
another should plot it on the chart, which was 
divided into squares, while the third telephoned 
through to our ship, saying what square the 
enemy vessel was in. Each square was lettered, 
and one spread salvo from our ship's guns 
would cover its area, so that at least one of the 
shells was bound to hit. 

That evening we entered Mombasa. The 
approach is exceedingly difficult to navigate 
owing to two large reefs which run out on 
either side of the island, having only a narrow 
passage of deep water, forty yards wide, lying 
between them. Along this channel we advanced 


until we were within little more than a stone's- 
throw of the lighthouse ; then, turning sharply 
to port, we went along parallel with the shore 
of the island, keeping so close in that we could 
see every pebble on the beach. After continuing 
on this course for about four hundred yards we 
turned to starboard and steamed between the 
mainland and the island. On both sides the 
shore was fringed with palm trees right down 
to the water's edge. Beautiful little bays 
opened out, revealing still, deep, blue water ; 
and as the channel gradually twisted to star- 
board, the open sea was soon completely lost 
to view. 

When we had gone about a quarter of a 
mile, the banks slowly receded, and we 
entered the harbour, which in its widest part 
is about half-a-mile across. Another large 
harbour, which is about a mile wide and two 
miles long, opens out further on and stretches 
away inland. The channel surrounding the 
island is not navigable all the way for big ships, 
but small ones can quite easily go right round 


it. Further on there are two more islands, 
called respectively Port Tudor and Port 
Mombasa, but H.M.'s ships rarely make use 
of these ports. Port Kilindini consists only of 
the Customs House, one or two railway offices, 
and a large coal-shed. 

The day after our arrival the three of us 
who were to be stationed at the lighthouse 
packed our tin cases and disembarked, taking 
with us a portable range-finder, a dumaresque, 
and some cooking utensils. Having piled all 
the luggage on a taxi which had been hired for 
us, we started for the lighthouse, which was on 
the other side of the island. 

At first the road, bounded on one side by a 
high embankment and on the other by the 
harbour, was slightly uphill, but presently we 
passed into a grove of trees and then under 
the Uganda railway bridge, and so along a 
straight and level road bordered by palm and 
various other tropical trees. Then came a 
native village composed of mud huts set back 
in a clearing to the left. Here a foolish 


ostrich, which I imagine belonged to the 
natives, fled across the road in front of the 
car and narrowly escaped being run over. A 
little later we reached the outskirts of the town, 
and after passing through it for a short distance 
turned to the right, and leaving the native 
barracks and the prison on our left, proceeded 
along a level track raised above the surrounding 
scrub, and flanked by trees wherein hundreds 
of birds'-nests hung, until we came to the 
hospital. Here we again -turned to the right, 
and shortly afterwards we arrived at the light- 
house, where we unloaded our luggage and 
dismissed the taxi. 

Finding that the tent in which we were to 
live was still in possession of the soldiers who 
had lived in it hitherto, we left a message with 
the native look-out boy, requesting them to 
remove themselves before nightfall, and we 
went off to the town for some tea. After tea 
the Lieutenant and Browne went to buy a stove 
and a kettle and one or two other things we 
required, while 1 walked back to the camp to 


look after our gear. I found the soldiers had 
gone and the tent was ready for us, so I set 
about moving in our things. Presently the 
Gunnery Lieutenant came up to see the camping 
place and to arrange with us where we should 
set up the range-finder, etc. I told him the 
others were shopping in the town, and we sat 
down and talked until they turned up. Then 
it was decided to set up our instruments on top 
of the look-out house, and to carry the flexible 
voice-pipe from there through the window 
below to the plotting- table where the chart was. 
This done " Guns " departed, and we set to 
and arranged our beds and made the tent 
ship-shape and habitable. 

When in town Browne and the Lieutenant 
had bought some shorts and some navy-blue 
putties, which they thought would be much 
cooler and more serviceable than duck suits ; 
so during our time in camp our uniform 
consisted of shorts, putties, and shirts, and of 
course sun helmets, which are indispensable 
in that climate. At half-past seven we cooked 



some eggs we had brought with us and got 
our supper ready. Browne caused us much 
amusement, as his only idea of cooking eggs 
was to put them all into a saucepan full of 
cold water and stir them vigorously until they 
boiled ! However, 1 must admit that none 
of us knew much about cooking, and we 
conducted some fearful and wonderful experi- 
ments in that line while we were in camp ! 
After supper we were quite jeady for bed, so 
we turned in. 

Next morning there was much to be done, 
so we were up by 6 o'clock ; and before 
breakfast we fixed up our range-finder and 
dumaresque on the roof of the observation 
hut and rigged up the flexible voice-pipe. 
After breakfast we repitched the tent a little 
further round, where the prevailing breeze 
would blow through it and keep it a bit 
cooler. Apparently the *' Tommies " who pre- 
ceded us were a stuffy lot with no undue 
craving for fresh air ! 

Then we contrived a pantry in the back 


of the tent on a wooden table, and here we 
installed the filter we had brought from the 
ship, as well as all our plates and dishes and 
the stove. Further, we engaged a native boy 
as general factotum to help with our menage 
and do such cooking as we could not manage 
on the stove. 

We also hired a bike from the ordnance 
officer at the port. 

When all this was accomplished a trial run 
of ranges and deflections with the ship occupied 
us until lunch-time. 

During the day a native kept the look-out 
from the watch-hut, reporting to us as soon 
as anything was sighted at sea. 

Next morning I was sent to the pier on 
the bicycle to catch the 11.30 boat and to 
go to our ship and obtain from the bo'sun 
a broom and one or two other things we 
needed. I caught the boat all right, lunched 

on the " " after putting in a *' chit " 

for the broom, etc., and returned to the shore 
in the 1.30 boat. 


The broom proved a most awkward thing 
to convey by bike, and it was horribly in the 
way of my knees. When I was about half- 
way to the camp I got so tied up with the 
beastly thing that I fell off, bike and broom 
on top of me ! When I picked myself up 
I found that the crank of the left pedal had 
been bent in the fall. However, the machine, 
though more wobbly than ever, was still rid- 
able, so I finished the journey gingerly and 
without further accident. 

Perhaps it might be well here to describe 
the camp and its surroundings more minutely. 
It was pitched about two hundred yards back 
from the cliffy ; and the watch-house, past 
which the road ran, was about ten yards in 
front of our tent. The lighthouse was situated 
some three hundred yards from the cliff's edge 
to our left ; and right opposite it, on a small 
point running out into the sea, stood a green 
beacon some fifteen feet high. Our native 
boy had built his kitchen of sand-bags on the 
cliffs just in front of the watch-hut. 


The soldiers were now encamped in tents 
some hundred yards away to- the right, and 
immediately behind our tent was a sort of 
large stone reservoir for water, with, in front 
of it, the flagstaff. Rough paths connected 
the beacon with the lighthouse and the 

On our third morning in camp we received 
a telephone message from a port a long way 
up the coast, saying that a hostile war-ship was 
coming down in our direction. We did not 
attach much importance to this information 
until the following- day, when the enemy was 
again reported — this time off Kismayne ; and 
as the next morning she was stated to be 
passing Malindi, we calculated that she ought 
to be in sight by 3 p.m. Sure enough, almost 
exactly at 3 I saw smoke on the horizon, and 
immediately telephoned our ship. 

Now we were all three eagerly watching the 
smoke, and presently the stranger's masts came 
into view. They certainly appeared to have 
"tops," so she might well be a war-ship o£ 


some kind, and our excitement grew until a 
single funnel hove in sight, whereat our spirits 
drooped a little, for very few ships of war have 
only one funnel. Still, as the lower parts of 
her masts lifted above the horizon, they looked 
at the distance so like tripods that hope rose 
high again. Very slowly her hull emerged, 
and in another ten minutes she was wholly 
visible. Then the powerful magnifying lens of 
the range-finder revealed her as unmistakably 
a collier. 

We telephoned the information through to 
our ship, and very shortly afterwards saw our 
picket boat manned by an armed crew, and with 
a 3-pounder in her bows, coming at full speed 
out of the harbour. 

Despite the fact that she was seventeen years 
old the picket was a very fast boat, and as we 
watched through our telescopes we soon saw 
her run alongside the collier, and several 
figures in duck suits jumped out and ran up 
the stranger's gangway. Then our boat shoved 
off again, and they both came steaming towards 


the harbour. Shortly afterwards the colher 
hoisted the code-flag for the day, thereby 
proving that she was not after all an enemy, 
and she asked permission to proceed into Kilin- 
dini. What a sell ! After all our excitement, 
too ! But one gets accustomed to that sort of 
disappointment ; and, after all, there was always 
the chance that the next alarm would prove 

The collier could not be allowed into Kilin- 
dini for some time, as there were already at 
the moment two ships in the channel on their 
way out, but as soon as the course was clear she 
rounded the curve of the island and anchored in 
the harbour — and that incident was ingloriously 

We tried that night, I remember, to com- 
municate with our ship by means of an electric 
flash-lamp fixed to the top of the flagstaff, but 
it was not a success, for the key was so badly 
insulated that after getting many violent shocks 
we had to give it up. 

We had heard from the soldiers that some- 


where to the left of the watch-hut there was 
a cave containing a deep pool of water in which 
it was quite safe to bathe, so Browne and I, 
being off duty, one morning went down to try 
and find it. We crossed the road, and going 
downhill for a bit over long g-rass and through 
various stunted shrubs, came presently to a 
large rectangular hole in the ground, which, by 
a long slope, very slippery and covered with 
loose stones, communicated with the said cave. 
At the end of the slope was a very small hole, 
through which we crawled on hands and knees, 
and found, when our eyes had grown accus- 
tomed to the darkness, that we were standing 
on a little ledge of rocks. At our feet lay a 
small sandy cove, which extended for some 
fifty yards to the mouth of the cave, across 
which stretched a reef about three feet high. 
As the waves roiled in the water every now 
and then poured over this reef into a large 
pool, and the ledge on which we were standing 
ran round the cave at a height of about three 
feet above the sand. 


We soon stripped and had a delightful bathe 
in the pool. 

About a quarter of a mile away we could see 
a large French liner stranded on the reef. 1 
don't know how long she had been there, but 
there is something awfully forlorn and desolate- 
looking about a wrecked vessel. Her stern 
had broken away and fallen off into deep water ; 
and there was a great hole in her side through 
which every now and then the waves splashed, 
as though purposely deriding her and mocking 
at her downfall. 

On the following day the whole convoy 
came in from. Tanga after having disembarked 
the troops. It was my morning watch, and I 
saw them on the horizon just as the dawn was 



Your troth was broken ere the trumpets blew ; 

Into the fight with unclean hands you rode : 
Your spurs were sullied, and the sword you drew 

Bore stain of outrage done to honour's code. 

And you have played your game as you began, 
Witness the white flag raised . . . 

And the swift stroke of traitor steel for thanks. 

The world (no fool) will know where lies the blame 

If England lets your pleadings go unheard ; 
To grace of chivalry you've lost your claim ; 

We've grown too wise to trust a Bosche's word. 

Punch: February i6, 191 6. 

In all we were about three weeks at the 

camp, and we spent some very happy days 

there ; but the end came rather unexpectedly 



one evening, when we suddenly received an 
order from the ship to pack all our gear and 
get on board by 9 the following morning. 
We were a little sorry, and yet in a sense 
relieved, for after all we were out to fight, not 
to picnic — and we had hardly seen a shot fired 
since we left home waters. 

We telephoned to the port officer to have 
a car ready to take us and our efFects down 
to Kilindini Harbour by 8 a.m., and that night 
we were busy packing up all our cooking 
utensils, our range-finder, clothes, etc. 

Next morning we were up early, packed 
our bedding, had a good look round to see 
that nothing had been forgotten, dismissed 
our native servant, and then awaited the car 
we had ordered. 

But time went on, and there was no sign 
of any car, so at 8.15 I was sent off on the 
same old bike to commandeer the first taxi 
I came across. Fortunately I managed to get 
one just inside the town, and went back with 
it as quickly as possible. We loaded up in 


a frantic hurry, and got down to the pier just 
in time, and so on board our ship. 

By noon we were clear of the harbour, and 
steaming at full speed southwards. 

Now we learned that we were under orders 
to destroy all the shipping in the harbour of 
Dar-es-Salaam, the capital of German East 
Africa, which lies about twenty miles south 
of Zanzibar. It appeared that the Huns in 
that port had been surreptitiously supplying 
food, etc. to the crew of the Koenigsbei^g^ that 
German raider which had been safely bottled 
up in the Rufigi river some weeks previously, 
and it was designed to cut their claws by 
disabling such merchant shipping as they 

That evening we dropped anchor in 
Zanzibar, and started coaling by native labour. 
Here we saw the masts of H.M.S. Pegasus 
sticking up forlornly out of the water half-a- 
mileon our port bow. They were very much 
battered and smashed, for she had been sunk 
by the Koenigsberg in September. 


Early next morning we weighed anchor, 
and proceeded out of the harbour in company 
with HM.S. " ." 

At 8 a.m. we sighted Dar-es-Salaam, and 
all hands went to general quarters. Half-an- 
hour later we dropped anchor in the roads out- 
side Dar-es-Salaam, and when all the guns were 
cleared away, and ready for instant action, we 
were allowed to go on deck for a few minutes. 

The town, with the Governor's house, a 
handsome building, standing out prominently 
on the foreshore, looked very peaceful and 
harmless in the brilliant tropical sunshine. It 
was rather an awful thought that we might 
have to shatter and destroy those quiet-looking 
houses in which lived women, and worst of 
all — children. War is a ghastly thing, and it 
seems so wantonly stupid. 

A large white flag was hoisted at our 
fore-mast. IVe meant to play a square game 
anyway, and give them a fair chance. Then 
we signalled to the Governor of the town to 
come on board and receive our ultimatum. 


The said ultimatum was as follows — 

If our boats were allowed to go unmolested 
into the harbour, there to destroy the ship- 
ping in accordance with our orders, we would 
not bombard the town. But — in the event 
of hostile action against our expedition we 
should open fire on the town without further 

The Governor, in reply, said that he could 
not accede to our demands without orders 
from the commander-in-chief of the military 
forces, and he then returned under safe con- 
duct to the shore. Shortly afterwards another 
boat appeared with a German military officer 
in the stern-sheets. He came on board and 
stated that our boats would not be molested, 
but he asked us in the event of our finding 
it necessary to bombard, not to fire on the 
Protestant Mission House, or on the Cathedral, 
as all the women and children would be 
sheltered in those buildings. This looked a 
bit suspicious, but of course we agreed, with- 


out demur, not in any case to fire on those 
particular buildings, an agreement which I 
need hardly say was faithfully adhered to. 

The German then returned to the shore, 
and shortly afterwards our picket boat was 
lowered. The demolition party was on board 
in charge of the Commander, who was accom- 
panied by the Torpedo and Engineer lieutenants, 
and she proceeded towards the shore. 

Unfortunately she ran aground, so the 
pinnace was hoisted out and sent to take off 
the officers and men, after which they pro- 
ceeded into the harbour under a white flag 

as agreed upon. H.M.S. '* " 's steamboat, 

and a steam tug commanded by one of our 
lieutenants, also went in under the white flag. 

General quarters was then sounded off^, and 
we all went to our action stations. 

At this time all of us midshipmen, together 
with the .A.P. (Assistant Paymaster), were 
stationed in the Fore T.S., which was our 
appointed action station, so we could see 
nothing of what was happening, and were 


dependent on the telephone for news. In 
about ten minutes the officer in charge of one 
of the batteries telephoned through to us that 
rapid firing had broken out from the shore, 
although the Germans were still flying the 
white flag ! 

The treacherous, dishonourable devils ! ! ! 

Almost immediately the order came through 
from the control position : " Range 4500, 
deflection 3 left — both turrets load with 
common — object — the Governor's house" — 
followed quickly by " Commence ! " The 
A.P. who worked the turret telephone gave the 
order " Stand by — Fire ! " And about one 
minute later we heard from the battery that the 
Governor's house had been hit and totally 
destroyed ! Jolly good shot ! Hurrah ! 

Now all guns which could be brought to bear 
on the town were firing rapidly. 

About noon we heard that the tug had re- 
appeared in the mouth of the harbour and 

was heading for H.M.S. " ." She had a 

bad escape of steam from her boiler, and hid 


signalled for assistance, reporting at the same 
time several wounded on board as well as 
twenty German prisoners. The bombardment 
continued the whole afternoon. Down in the 
Fore T.S. the heat was stifling — we were all 
stripped to the waist and streaming with 

At 4*30 we heard that the remaining 
steamboats were making for the ships under 
heavy fire from Maxims, pom-poms, and 

Shortly afterwards the " Cease fire " sounded, 
and, hastily changing, we ran up on deck to see 
what damage had been done. 

The town was on fire in two places, and the 

Governor's house, which had stood out so 

conspicuously only a few short hours before, 

was now nothing but a mass of blackened ruins. 

But there was no time for any feeling of 

compunction or regret then^ for a few minutes 

later our pinnace ran alongside with the 

Commander and the coxswain lying on the 

deck simply smothered in blood and barely 

£ 2 


conscious. They had both been hit no less 
than eight times in various places, and had 
stuck to their posts until they collapsed from 
loss of blood. Three others of the crew were 
wounded, though able to walk ; and there was 
no sign of the demolition party and the other 
three officers. The wounded were carefully 
hoisted on board, and carried down to the sick 
bay, and we at once put to sea. 

At 2 next morning we anchored in Zanzibar 
Harbour, and the wounded were transferred 
to the hospital. 

By this time we had learned what had taken 
place while our boats were in the enemy's 
harbour. They had no sooner entered the 
mouth than, despite the white fiags^ a heavy fire 
broke out from the shore. Nevertheless, 
gallantly proceeding with their duty, they had 
managed to destroy two ships, and had thefn 
run alongside a large hospital ship. Three of 
our officers, accompanied by the demolition 
party, hadN^hardly boarded her before three 
Maxims were unmasked on her deck, opening a 


murderous fire on the boat, which was forced to 

One of our party — the surgeon — managed 
to fight his way back to the gangway ; and, 
leaping into a small boat alongside, presented 
his revolver at the heads of two natives who 
were in it, and ordered them to row him back 
to the pinnace. They had only pulled a few 
strokes when the surgeon was hit in the head 
and fell down in the bottom of the boat, 
apparently dead. The natives at once turned 
the boat round and in terror of their lives 
rowed back to the treacherous hospital ship. 

The pinnace was then forced to abandon all 
hope of recovering the prisoners, and with much 
difficulty fought her way out of the harbour 
and back to the ships. 

For his gallantry on this occasion our 
Commander eventually received the V.C. The 
cox'un was awarded the C.G.M., and the 
lieutenant in command of the tug, who was also 
wounded, received the D.S.C. 

At 6 next morning we put out from 


Zanzibar and proceeded again to Dar-es- 
Salaam, where we demanded the surrender of 
the prisoners, threatening in the event of a 
refusal to again bombard the town. The 
Germans, however, had no intention of relin- 
quishing their captives, so at 9 a.m. we 
commenced fire. I think I forgot to mention 
that the Torpedo Lieutenant who had greeted 
us boys so kindly when we first arrived on the 
ship fromi Dartmouth was one of those taken 
prisoner on this occasion, to our very deep 

We ceased fire at 2 p.m. and put to sea for 
the night in case an attempt should be made to 
torpedo us. This second bombardment was 
not quite so successful as the first, but it 
started two more serious fires in the town — so 
we had our revenge all right ! 

That evening it was decided that on the 
following morning a party should be sent to 
attack and demolish the lighthouse, which was 
situated on a small island at the entrance to the 
harbour. For this purpose there was detailed 


a landing party, consisting of seamen and 
marines, officered by a lieutenant and the 
subaltern of marines. Browne, one of the 
" snotties," was also to accompany this 
expedition. However, much to the general 
disappointment, the sea on the next morning 
proved too rough to allow of any boats being 
lowered, and we had to abandon the project 
and return to Zanzibar. 




We left the Cape about the i6th of Feb- 
ruary 191 5. For several days previous to our 
departure we were busy taking in a quan- 
tity of stores suggestive of a land campaign. 

These included hand-grenades, entrenching 

tools, water troughs and tanks, provisions of 

every description, and a whole lot of empty 

biscuit-tins, the eventual usefulness of which 

I, for one, failed to fathom. When finally we 

weighed anchor and steamed out, having the 

Vice-Admiral and his staff on board, we 

encountered some very heavy weather. A stiff 

south-easter had been blowing for some days 

past, and off Cape Agulhas and in False Bay it 

was very rough indeed; but, save for the general 

discomfort which such weather always brings in 



its train, our voyage was without accident or 
incident, and a week later we dropped anchor 
in Port Natal — the port of Durban. 

Leave was given in the afternoon, but as half 
of us had to stay on board, and as it was 
improbable that we should get leave again in 
this particular place, we cast lots in the gun- 
room to determine who should go ashore. 
Baker and I were among the lucky ones, and 
we went off together and took the tram into 

We got down at the town station and walked 
along the main street, looking into all the 
shops. It was jolly being in such a very 
European place again. The quaintest feature 
of Durban seemed to us the native rickshaw- 
boys, who paint their faces and wear head- 
dresses of enormous many-coloured feathers, 
gaudy dresses sown with beads, and huge 
copper rings on their wrists and ankles. 

Presently we took another tram, and were 
looking out for an attractive tea-shop as we 
went along, when a lady and gentleman got 


into the tram, and the lady at once introduced 
herself to us, saying that she had a son at 
Osborne, so could not help being interested in 
us. After a little conversation she very kindly 
asked us to have tea with her. We very gladly 
accepted the invitation, and a little later we all 
got out of the tram and went to a hotel by the 
sea. Here we had a ripping tea, and at 

6 o'clock said " good-bye " to our kind hosts, 
and then did some shopping in the town until 

7 o'clock, when we were due to return on 

Next day we still remained in harbour, so 
the others got their leave after all. During the 
day, much to our curiosity, we took on board 
three rickshaws. No one could imagine what 
they could be wanted for ! Further, we 
accumulated some more biscuit-boxes and some 
tins of petrol. 

That evening we weighed anchor and pro- 
ceeded out to sea. Just at the moiith of the 
harbour we were confronted by a big bar 
which — as the tide was running the same way 


as the river, i.e. ebbing — had not been there 
when we came in, and consequently it took us 
unawares. It was nearly dark, so the bar was 
not noticed until we were almost on top of it. 
The Captain yelled a warning to the first part of 
the watch on deck, who were still on the fo'c'sle 
securing the anchor, telling them to hang on 
tight, and the next moment we dipped our bow 
and shipped an enormous sea. Messengers had 
been hurriedly dispatched to give orders for all 
scuttles and dead-lights to be closed immedi- 
ately, and for the crockery in the pantries and 
messes to be secured firmly ; but some of the 
scuttles could not be closed in time, and many 
cabins were flooded as the sea passed aft. The 
lieutenant-commander in charge of the party 
on the fo'c'sle just grabbed one man in time 
to prevent his being washed overboard. Four 
of these huge rollers came before we were 
safely out in the open sea, but no rea^ 
damage was done, although the owners of 
the flooded cabins were mightily indignant and 


We now discovered that we were under 
orders to blockade the Koenigsberg^ that German 
commerce raider which had been trapped in 
the Rufigi river some two or three months 
before, and whose crew, entrenched on the 
banks, had hitherto defied capture. It was 
now rumoured that in all probability troops 
would try and attack her by land, and that 
there would also be a landing-party of seamen 
and marines from our ship. The petrol we 
had taken on board would be needed for a sea- 
plane which was to assist in the operations ; 
but the use of those fantastic rickshaws was 
still " wropped in mystery " ! 

During the voyage up the coast, the 
Admiral had us all in turn to breakfast with 
him. This was a great treat to us, for not 

only was Vice-Admiral a most kindly 

and genial host, but the fare at his table, 
though not, perhaps, luxurious according to 
shore and peace standards, was a vast 
improvement on the bully beef, liquefied 
margarine, and very nasty bread which was 


all that was to be had in the gun-room. 
Perhaps this sounds rather greedy, but it is 
really extraordinary how awfully important 
quite ordinarily nice food becomes when it is 
no longer an every-day matter-of-course ! 

Ten days after leaving Durban we sighted 
Mafia Island, and stopped for two hours to 
communicate with various ships stationed there, 
after which we went on to Zanzibar. Here 
we stayed for twenty-four hours ; were allowed 
to go ashore, and enjoyed ourselves immensely. 
The following day, the ist of March, we put 
to sea again, and proceeded to the mouth of 
the Rufigi river, where we anchored. 

For reasons, naturally not confided to junior 
" snotties," we got under way again a few 
hours later, and went back to Mafia Island. 
Here the cutter was lowered, and Fane took 
the captain of marines, who was our intelli- 
gence officer, in to the beach to try and obtain 
from the natives information of the Koenigsberg. 
On their return we found that Fane had 
managed to procure a quantity of fresh coco- 


nuts and mangoes, which were greatly appre- 
ciated in the gun-room. 

A curious optical illusion, caused by heat 
and the vibration of the atmosphere, was very 
noticeable in these latitudes. The horizon 
line seemed completely obliterated, and ships 
and islands appeared as though floating in the 

Some days later H.M.S. " " made the 

discovery that a German officer, accompanied 
by ten native German infantry, were encamped 
on an outlying island ; so she lowered her 
cutter, and landed a party of marines on the 
island in question. The Germans surrendered 
after a half-hearted opposition, and the follow- 
ing day the officer was sent to our ship as a 
prisoner, and we took him to Zanzibar and 
handed him over to the military authorities. 

When we returned, the Admiral having 
decided to hoist his flag in his former flagship, 
he and his staff were transferred to H.M.S. 

'* ." Carey, our senior mid, was appointed 

to that ship, and two sub-lieutenants came 


to us In his stead. All boats were lowered 
to convey the Admiral and his party, and 
a consignment of small arms, which we 
had on board, was transhipped at the same 

A few days later we went down the coast 
to Lindi, a German town, and threatened them 
with a bombardment unless they surrendered 
400 black and 200 white troops. They 
refused to comply with our demand, and so at 
2 p.m. we went to action stations and com- 
menced fire. 

At 6 o'clock, the town being on fire in 
several places, we considered we had " strafed " 
them sufficiently, and also the light was begin- 
ning to fail, so we ceased the bombardment 
and weighed anchor. Just at this moment 
a cruiser appeared in the offing, and for some 
minutes it was thought she might be a hostile 
craft ; however, on being challenged in code 
by searchlight, she proved by her reply to be 
British, so we went back to Mafia. 

Three days later we learned that we were 


not after all to be " in at the death " of the 
Koenigsberg. Bigger, far bigger work was in 
store for us. We had received orders to 
proceed at once to the Dardanelles. 

Immense excitement prevailed in the gun- 
room, for we guessed this new move predicted 
action which would throw all we had hitherto 
experienced into the shade — and subsequent 
events more than justified our conjecture. 

First we went to Zanzibar, where we arrived 
in the morning. All that day was spent in dis- 
embarking the extraneous ammunition, petrol, 
and so on and so forth (not forgetting those 
mysterious rickshaws), which we had taken on 
board for the purposes of the Koenigsberg 
operations. Then in the evening we weighed 
anchor, and as we passed slowly out the Flag- 
ship gave us a right royal send-ofF. Her 
band played Tipperary — that pretty music-hall 
tune which, by the curious psychology of the 
British soldier, has been raised to the dignity 
of a battle hymn, and then followed it up with 
Auld Lang Syne, while the Admiral from 


the stern-walk wished us " Good luck," and 
waved a parting farewell ; and the old ship 
steamed away on what for her, and most of 
her ship's company, was to prove the last long 



Two days after leaving Zanzibar we reached 

Mombasa, and since no native labour was 

available, and the heat was too great to allow 

of our working by day, we commenced coaling 

at 4 p.m., and coaled all night, taking in about 

1 200 tons. Early next morning we were 

under way again, and a fortnight later we 

dropped anchor at Aden. We went ashore 

on leave while the ship was being coaled by 

native labour, and in the evening proceeded 

again to sea. Next day we sighted the coast 

of Somaliland, where a furious sand-storm 

was raging, and a huge wall of red sand hung 

above the cliffs, extending some distance over 

the water. Little more than a week later we 

arrived at Suez, having accomplished the 

passage of the Red Sea without any incident 



worth recording. We stayed the day at Suez, 
and in the evening got under way and traversed 
the Canal by night, dropping anchor at Port 
Said on the following morning. Again we 
went on leave while coaling was in progress,, 
and next morning resumed our journey. Two 
days later we received a wireless message 
ordering us to put back to Port Said and 
there prepare to repel an expected attack by 
Turkish infantry on the Canal ; and, further, 
we were instructed to make preparation to 
receive the Admiral of the port, who intended 
to hoist his flag in our ship. We at once set 
to work to protect our bridge and tops by means 
of sand-bags, hammocks, and grass ropes ; and 
all the Captain's furniture was removed from the 
after-cabin. Also the 12-pounders and search- 
light positions were screened with thin steel 
plates. However, before we sighted land all 
these orders were cancelled, as, apparently, the 
Turkish attack was no longer anticipated. 

We now spent three days in Port Said, and 
while there I distinguished (?) myself by 


running our steam-pinnace aground ! ! It 
happened in this way : I had offered to relieve 
Barton in charge of the said pinnace, and 
owing to imperfect knowledge of the harbour, 
a very tricky one, I steered the boat firmly on 
to a sand-bank which lay within a biscuit's 
throw of the ship. Three native boys en- 
deavoured to assist me by jumping into the 
water and shoving at the boat, but they only 
made matters worse. Eventually, after going 
full speed astern for a good five minutes, I 
got her off, and went alongside the ship. I 
was greeted by the Commander with a proper 
slanging, and ordered to pay the native boys, 
who were clamouring for backsheesh in 
reward of their fancied assistance. In my 
agitation I grossly overpaid the interfering 
brutes, and the Commander then told me to do 
penance for my carelessness by keeping the 
dog-watch. As a matter of fact it was my 
dog-watch anyway; but I did not feel called 
upon to tell him so ! 


On the morning of the fourth day we again 
got under way for the Dardanelles, and 
arrived there on the 25th of April. 

We steamed round the island of Tenedos, 
and took up our station at the end of a line of 
some ten or more ships already anchored there. 
During the voyage over I had been appointed 
in charge of the picket boat, and as soon as we 
had anchored my boat was lowered to take 
some officers to a cruiser which was going to 
take them over to the Dardanelles to have a 
look at the positions we were going to attack 
on the following morning. There was a con- 
siderable sea running, and as soon as the slings 
were slackened, and the boat began to ride to 
the waves, the starboard funnel, which was 
hinged to allow of its being laid flat when she 
was in the crutches, and had not yet been 
raised and secured, was so shaken by the 
violent motion of the boat that it snapped off 
close to the deck and rolled overboard. This 
made steering with a head wind very difficult, 
as the smoke all went into the steersman's eyes 


instead of being carried over his head ; but 1 
was not the sufferer on this occasion, as 
I did not take this particular trip, being busy 
on some important work in another part of 
the ship, and a substitute was sent in my 

By this time a change had been made in 
our routine, and none of us were now officers' 
messengers, with the exception of Cunninghame 
and Baker, who were A.D.C.s to the Captain 
and the navigator respectively. The remain- 
ing seven were watch-keepers, and in this 
way there were two " snotties " to every watch 
but one. 

Soon after my boat had gone away, having 
on board the Captain, Commander, captain of 
marines, and officers of turrets, a collier came 
alongside and we commenced coaling. My 
boat being duty steamboat (known in the 
vernacular as D.S.B.), 1 did not have to assist 
in coaling, and as soon as she returned from 

the cruiser " ," I was sent away in her 

with dispatches for the Flagship. One of my 


bowmen did not turn up when the boat's crew 
was piped, and when he eventually appeared 
the silly fool went and fell into the ditch ! 
He was soon pulled out, however, and we 
started down the line. On the horizon I 
could see the mouth of the Dardanelles and 
one or two ships firing at intervals. As we 
passed down the Fleet I noticed one ship with 
half her funnel-casing blown off and another 
with a bit of her stern-v/alk missing, which 
showed we didn't always get it all our own 
way with the Turk. 

After I had delivered my dispatches I 
returned to the ship and was promptly sent 
away again to take the gunner to the store- 
ship Fauvette to get some gunnery instruments. 
By this time the sea was very big for a small 
steamboat, and was almost dead on the beam. 
We were rolling nearly 60° each side, and 
constantly shipping seas, which poured down 
the stump of the broken funnel and nearly put 
the furnace out. The store-ship was a good 
two miles away, and it took us nearly half-an- 


hour to reach her. At last we got within 
about twenty yards of her, and I ran my boat 
down the leeside, looking for a ladder or 
gangway ; seeing none, I ran under her stern 
and went alongside to windward of her. Here 
the seas were enormous, and as we rose on a 
huge wave the gunner leaped for the ladder, 
missed his footing, hung on for a second, 
and then dropped into the sea between the 
boat and the ship's side. We managed to 
haul him out at once, but it was a bit of luck 
that the boat was not carried in towards the 
ship's side by a wave, as it would most certainly 
have crushed, and probably killed him. Once 
he was safe on board again I hailed the ship 
and asked them to put out a ladder on the lee- 
side, as I could see it was much too dangerous 
work going alongside to windward, and I 
didn't care to risk it again. Eventually the 
gunner's mission was safely accomplished, fand 
we returned to our own ship without further 

After lunch I had to get my boat coaled 


and watered, and at about 5 p.m. the cruiser 
with our officers on board came back to her 
moorings, and 1 was sent to bring them off to 
our ship again. Then at 6.30. I had to take 
the Torpedo Lieutenant and the gunner (T.) 

over to H.M.S. " ," and to wait an hour 

for them, lying off in the dark with a big sea 
running. Thank goodness I am a good sailor 
— don't know what it is to be sea-sick ; but 
anyone less fortunate in their interior economy 
would have had an uncommonly miserable 
time ! As it was I was only rather cold, very 
hungry, and very bored. At last they re- 
embarked and I returned on board and got 
my dinner, which J was much in need of. 

That night we put to sea, and at 2 on 
the following morning " Action " sounded — 
the great landing at Gallipoli had begun. All 
water-tight doors were hastily closed and all 
electric light cut off. 

We had to go up on deck to get to 
the Fore T.S., and away to the right could 
be seen the first faint streaks of dawn, and 


the land showing very faintly against the 

Down in the Fore T.S. we worked by candle- 
light, eagerly awaiting the sunrise when the 
great bombardment would begin. 

Of that bombarament he spoke but little^ and 
wrote not at all. I think he felt it too big a 
thing to tackle. 

The epic of the Gallipoli landings will, let us 
hope, one day be written by a pen worthy to 
depict that immortal tale of heroism, but I doubt 
if the whole truth can ever be spoken or written. 
There are some things of which men cannot and 
will not speak. A word, a sentence here and 
there, may lift for a moment a corner of the veily 
but only those who went through that inferno will 
ever fully realise its horror. 

Of my boys own small part in it all I know 
a little — but only a very little. 'The ship was 

concerned in the landing at Beach, and at 

10 clock one morning he was sent away in hvs 


boat to fetch the wounded from the beach in 
question. Of course other midshipmen were doing 
the same thing in other boats. 

Batch after batch of men horribly wounded^ 
hideously mutilated^ were rescued under fire^ and 
conveyed to the hospital ships. He spoke — brokenly 
— of the terrible wounds^ the all-pervading stench 
of blood rising up beneath the fierce rays of the 
sun from his reeking boat; of the magnificent^ 
indescribable heroism and patience of men mangled^ 
and shattered^ and torn. 

Once for a time the ship had to go away 
down the straits for two miles^ and he had to read 
the signals giving orders where to convey the 
rescued — and so — work on. One day he was on 
that duty from i o in the morning until half-past 
1 at night. 

''What did you do for food?"" I asked— 
perhaps foolishly. 

" Ohy they threw me down a lump of cheese 
and a ship's biscuit^ somewhere about midday^ 
when I happened to be alongside.'' 

*' And was that all you had in all those hours P 



Surely they might have seen you had at least 
something to eatf'' 

^^Eat — " he exclaimed scornfully ^ and then 
very patiently : " Dont you see, Mother, it was a 
question of men's lives ! Some were bleeding to 

death ; every second counted How could we 

think of eating ! " 

So — shamed — / held my peace^ hearing only 
that " it was a question of men s lives." 

And these were the hoys of whom a certain 
well-meaning hut hysterical Memher of Parliament 
wrote to the papers just after the sinking of the 
Aboukir, the Cressy, and the Hogue. He said 
it was monstrous to send such mere children to 
war, and that in point of fact they were of no 
use on the ships, and only a source of worry to 
their superior officers I One could wish that he 
had been present at Gallipoli. Some of those same 
hoys won decorations which they may well wear 
proudly to-day, for they won them by deeds of 
magnificent fortitude and valour. Others again 
gave all they had — their health and their youths 
and in some cases their lives, and I think the 


names of all those " children " are written in 
letters of flame on the Roll of England's Honour 
— England s Glory. 

Some aays later they were once more in com- 
parative security. How comparative only those 
who have realised a fraction of that hell will 

The ship was guarding the French flank when 
the end came — but — let it he told in his own 



Crash ! — Bang ! — Cr-r-r-ash ! 1 woke with 
a start, and sitting up in my hammock gazed 
around to see what had so suddenly roused 
me. Some of the midshipmen were already 
standing on the deck in their pyjamas — others, 
like me, were sitting up half dazed with sleep. 
A party of ship's boys crowded up the ladder 
from the gun-room flat, followed by three 
officers; one of these, a sub-lieutenant R.N.R., 
called out : " Keep calm, and you'll all be 

Up to that moment it had never dawned 
upon me that the ship was sinking, and even 
then I thought it improbable until I noticed 
that we were already listing to starboard- 
Then I got up and walked up the hatch 



to the quarter-deck. The ship was now 
heeling about five degrees to starboard, and I 
climbed up to the port side. It was nearly 
pitch dark. A seaman rushing to help lower 
the boats charged into me, and I turned 
and swore at him. 

Gradually a crowd gathered along the port 
side. " Boat ahoy ! Boat ahoy 1 " they 
yelled ; but, as the ship listed more and more, 
and there was no sign or sound ot any 
approaching vessel, the men's voices seemed 
to get a bit hopeless. The Commander was 
urging on a gang who were trying to get 
some heavy timber overboard ; but, as we 
listed further and further over, they found 
it impossible to get it up on the port side 
and couldn't get round to starboard, as the 
capstan and the Captain's hatch and skylight 
were in the way. At last they gave it up, 
and going to the side joined their voices to 
those of the crew, who were trying to attract 
the attention of any vessel that might be in 
the vicinity. 


Inside the ship everything which was not 
secured was sliding about and bringing up 
against the bulkheads with a series of crashes. 
Crockery was smashing — boats falling out of 
their crutches — broken funnel-guys swinging 
against the funnel casings. She had heeled 
over to about twenty degrees, then she stopped 
and remained steady for a few seconds. In 
the momentary lull the voice of one of our 
officers rang out steady and clear as at 
"divisions " : " Keep calm, men. Be British ! " 
Then the ship started to heel rapidly again, 
and I felt sure there was no chance of saving 
her. I turned to jump overboard. The 
Commander, who was standing a few paces 
away on my right, went over a second before 
me. Raising my arms above my head I sprang 
well out board and dived. Just before I 
struck the water my face hit the side of the 
ship. It was a horrid feeling sliding on my 
face down the slimy side, and a second later 
I splashed in with tremendous force, having 
dived about thirty feet. 


Just as I was rising to the surface again 
a heavy body came down on top of me. I 
fought clear and rose rather breathless and 
bruised. I swam about fifty yards away, to 
get clear of the suction when the ship went 
down ; then, turning round and treading water, 
I watched her last moments. The noise of 
crashing furniture and smashing crockery was 
continuous. Slowly her stern lifted until it 
was dimly outlined against the deep midnight 
sky. Slowly her bows slid further and further 
under until, with a final lurch, she turned com- 
pletely over and disappeared bottom upwards 
in a mass of bubbles. 

She had been our home for nearly ten 
months — she was gone — vanished — in less than 
four minutes. 

Turning over and swimming a slow side- 
stroke I made for H.M.S. Cornwallis^ which 1 
could discern faintly silhouetted against the sky 
about two-and-a-half miles distant. Suddenly 
something touched my leg, and the thought of 

the sharks we had watched from the bridge the 

F 2 


previous afternoon flashed shudderingly across 
my mind — but it was only a floating potato ! 
Soon the shrieks of the drowning grew faint 
in the distance and I swam on with three others 
near me. When I had been in the water for 
about twenty minutes I looked up and saw 
what I thought to be* a boat. I shouted out, 
" Boat ahoy ! " — and ^turning on my side swam 
for some time a fast side-stroke. When at 
last I rested and looked for the imagined boat, 
which ought to have been quite near by now, 
I discovered that I had somehow misfocussed 
the Cornwallis, and so come to imagine she 
was a small steamboat quite close instead of 
a battle-ship a mile and a half away. How- 
ever, I felt quite confident of reaching her if 
only I persevered, so I continued to swim 
a slow side-stroke. Soon after this my pyjama 
jacket came undone, and I took it off as it 
hindered me. A few minutes later I sighted 
a huge spar about twenty feet long, probably 
the topgallant mast or lower boom from our 
ship. It must have been thrown a tremendous 


way by the force of the explosion to be so far 
down the channel. The current was very 
strong, and of course that was a great help to 
those who were swimming. I hung on to the 
spar for a minute or two to get my breath 
back a bit, and rubbed myself all over in order 
to restore the circulation, as by that time I was 
getting very cold. After a short rest I started 
ofF again to try and reach H.M.S. Cornwallis. 
Presently it seemed to me that I was not 
approaching her as rapidly as before, and 
almost at the same moment she switched on 
her searchlights, when 1 saw by their light 
that she was out of the main stream of the 
current, and that to reach her I should have 
to swim half a mile absolutely unaided by the 
flow of the tide. L tried to get in the beam 
of her searchlight, thinking she would be sure 
to have some boats out and that they would 
see me ; but I found I was unable to manage 
this, and after about five minutes I gave up 
trying. Then I turned round and looked 
about for some other ship to essay and make 


for. About a quarter of a mile behind rtie, 
and slightly up stream, I saw another ship 
with all her searchlights going and I deter- 
mined to try and reach her. I swam towards 
her, and presently saw two steamboats push 
ofF from her bow and make off up stream for 
the scene of the disaster, but they were too 
far off to hail. Five minutes later I heard 
the welcome plash of oars, and looking to 
my left saw a cutter approaching with a man 
in the bows sweeping the surrounding water 
with a hand lantern. I yelled out, *' Boat 
ahoy ! " and back came the cheering answer : 
'^ All right, we're coming. Hang on ! " 

A minute later the lantern flashed in my 
face, a pair of strong arms grasped me by 
the shoulders and hauled mc clear of the 

I must have fainted then, for I remember 
nothing more until I became dimly conscious 
as in a dream that 1 was in the stern sheets 
of a boat lying alongside some other vessel. 
A man's voice said, " Here's a midshipman. 


sir," and next moment I was picked up and 
set down on the deck. 

Barely conscious as yet of my surroundings, 
I was taken into a sort of cabin, where I was 
given some neat rum. It was very fiery and 
nearly choked me, but it bucked me up a bit 
all the same. Then I was conducted down to 
the boiler-room, where some one stripped off my 
pyjama trousers (my one remammg garment), 
and I sat down on a locker before the furnace 
and soon got a degree of warmth back into my 

Presently I heard the voice of one of our 
lieutenants speaking up above, and called out to 
him to know how he'd come off. Then I was 
helped up the gangway again and into a small 
sort of saloon in the stern. Here I was given 
some more rum, a very large sweater, and a pair 
of blue serge trousers belonging to one of the 
crew, and when I had put them on I lay down 
in a bunk and immediately fell asleep. About 
an hour later I woke up and found the saloon 
full of officers and men. 


The Lieutenant to whom I had spoken in the 
boiler-room was sitting at the table. He was 
dressed in a jersey and a seaman's duck 
trousers. Two other survivors, a marine and 
an armourer, were also at the table, and across 
the saloon in the bunk opposite mine lay a 
gunner's mate. I asked the Lieutenant what 
time our ship was struck. He said his watch 
had stopped at 1*29 a.m., when he jumped into 
the sea, and so he presumed we were torpedoed at 
about 1*27, as the ship only took three and a half 
minutes to go down. She had been struck on 
the starboard side by three torpedoes fired from 
a Turkish torpedo-boat, which had drifted down 
the straits keeping close inshore, and thus eluded 
our destroyer patrol. To give the enemy his 
due it was a jolly smart piece of work. 

It was now somewhere about 3*30 a.m., and, 
as 1 did not feel inclined to sleep any more, they 
gave me some hot cocoa and some bread-and- 
cheese. I drank the former, but the bread-and- 
cheese was more than I felt equal to just then. 
About 6 o'clock the Lieutenant was transferred 


to another ship forrmedical treatment, as his 
back was badly bruised by drifting wreckage ; 
and half-an-hour later the rest of the survivors 
were re-embarked in H.M.S. Lord Nelson s 
cutter, the same that had picked us up ; and 
leaving the trawler she took us to the Lord 

When we got on board I was at once taken 
down to the gun-room, where I found four 
more of our *' snotties " who had also been 
rescued. One more was reported as having 
safely swum ashore ; but; there was no news of 
the other three, and subsequently it transpired 
that they had been lost. 

The survivors were mostly sleeping — the 
sleep of exhaustion. We had all had a pretty 
tough fight for it, and I realised then how 
uncommonly lucky we had been in escaping not 
only alive, but for the most part uninjured. 
Cunninghame had a nasty cut on his head, but 
the rest of us were only suffering from minor 
bruises, and of course to a certain extent from 


One of the Lord Nelson s middies kindly lent 
me some old uniform, and after I had dressed 
I made a parcel of the clothes I had been lent 
on the trawler and took them to the ship's 
corporal, and asked him to see that they were 
returned to their owner. 

I remembered, with an odd sense of unreality, 
that the last time I had been in the Lord Nelson 
was at the manoeuvres the previous July ! 

On my way up to the deck I met three more 
of our lieutenants, and we exchanged accounts 
of our experiences. From them I learned that 
our Commander had been saved, and was also 
on board ; but there was no news of the Captain. 
Some days later 1 heard that his body had been 
picked up, and it was thought that he had been 
killed by the falling of the pinnace when the 
ship turned over just before she sank. 

At 7'30 we put to sea and proceeded to Port 
Mudros. On the way, and after divisions, the 
lower deck was cleared, the whole ship's 
company, together with the survivors from our 
ship, mustered on the quarter-deck, and then 


took place a mournful ceremony, which 
poignantly brought home to us the fate we 
had so narrowly escaped. 

Through the battery — very softly — came the 
sound of muffled drums, growing gradually 
louder as the band advanced. Then appeared 
a procession of seamen from our lost ship, 
headed by the Lord Nelson's chaplain, and 
carrying three stretchers, on each of which lay a 
body covered with the Union Jack. The first 
was that of our Fleet paymaster, and the other 
two those of a seaman and marine respectively. 
The bodies were lifted from the stretchers and 
laid reverently on a platform slanting towards 
the water, which had been erected on the port 
side. Clearly and solemnly the chaplain recited 
the beautiful Burial Service, and as he uttered 
the words "we therefore commit their bodies 
to the deep," the staging was tilted and the 
weighted corpses slid feet foremost into the 
sea. * 

The service ended with three volleys fired 
over the side and then the long sobbing wail 


of the " Last Post " rang out across the still 
waters in final farewell. 

When we were dismissed we went below in 
silence, awed by the solemnity of this last 
committal to the deep of those with whom we 
had lived and worked side by side for ten long 



At 4 o'clock that afternoon the Lord Nel- 
son anchored in Mudros Harbour, and shortly 
afterwards we were mustered on deck and 
then disembarked and taken to the store-ship 
Fauvette^ where cabins were allotted to each 
two of us midshipmen. 

The following day two torpedo-boats came 
alongside, and the Lieutenant-Commander of 
the whole squadron of T.B.s based at Malta 
came aboard to lunch. It was the great 
ambition of each of us " snotties " to get 
appointed to one of these sporting little craft ; 
but we feared there was but little chance of 
such a stroke of luck, as they do not, as a 
rule, carry midshipmen. However, there was 
no harm in hoping ! 

Next forenoon one of our lieutenants told 


us that two of our number were to go to an 
armoured liner which was lying in the harbour, 
and suggested that we should draw lots to de- 
termine which of us it should be. Browne was 
away somewhere at the moment, and, as there 
was no time to be lost, we had to do the 
drawing without him. Baker and I seemed 
to be rather lucky at lotteries, for, as once 
before, we drew the winning numbers. I was 
not, however, particularly elated as I was still 
secretly hankering after service on a T.B. 

We packed up the few articles of clothing 
we had obtained from the Lord Nelson^ and, 
together with the Lieutenant, who was also 
going to the auxiliary cruiser, we were just 
embarking in the cutter, when, as we were 
about to shove off, Browne came alongside in 
another boat. Hastily we drew lots again, 
but the result was the same, and we went off 
to our appointed ship. 

When we got on board we were asked our 
names, and then the Captain informed me he 
had orders to take Browne instead of me ; 


so I returned to the Fauvette and told him 
he was to take my place. No sooner had I 
lost this billet than, with human cussedness, 
1 began to regret it. After all, " a bird in the 
hand is worth two in the bush," and the job 
would have been quite a good one. 

However, my discontent was short-lived, for 
I soon found that, after all, my luck was 
" in." That afternoon I was leaning over the 
stanchions looking at the shipping in the 
harbour, and wondering what fate might have 
in store for me, when the Lieutenant-Com- 
mander of the T.B.s and the Captain of the 
Fauvette came along the deck and stopped 
close to where I was standing, and I heard 
the former say that he intended — if he could 
get the Admiral's permission — to take one of 
the rescued midshipmen to act as second in 
command of his torpedo-boat. I pricked up 
my ears at that, and, a few minutes later, when 

Captain had gone below, I summoned 

up all my courage (call it cheek, if you like), 
and, regardless of the snub I was undoubtedly 


asking for, I went boldly up to the Lieutenant- 
Commander and told him 1 had overheard 
what he had said, and asked him if he would 
not take me if he could, as 1 was most awfully 
keen to serve on a T.B. 

He was frightfully kind, and did not seem 
a bit annoyed or surprised, nor did he hand 
me the snubbing I had invited ; but he ex- 
plained that, although at the moment the job 
I coveted was pleasant enough and not too 
strenuous, it was likely to be a very stiff 
service later on, and he asked if I really felt 
I should be equal to it. 

Of course 1 declared that I felt perfectly 
fit and equal to anything, and would do my 
level best if only I could get the billet ; so 
then he said he would ask for me. 

As soon as he had left me I dashed below to 
tell the others of the glorious luck which might 
be in store for me. 

Next morning Lieutenant-Commander 

came aboard again, and to my intense delight 
told me I was duly appointed to his T.B. and 


could join that afternoon ! Further, he invited 
me there and then to go off with him and have 
a look round the boat. I found it a very 
different proposition to the big ship to which I 
had been accustomed. To begin with, there 
was only one tiny cabin, called by courtesy the 
ward-room, in which we would live and eat and 
sleep, and my new skipper warned me that 
when we were at sea it would often be three 
feet deep in water. However, I felt it would 
require much more water than that to damp my 
ardour for this new and exciting work. 

Then he gave me a brief explanation of the 
duty on which the T.B.s were then engaged. 
That night, he said, we would in all probability 
go out on patrol duty just outside the boom 
until relieved at 6 the next morning. Then 
we might proceed to sea and patrol the waters 
surrounding the island of Lemnos. Doubtless 
we should anchor in some small bay for the 
night, and early next morning return to harbour, 
when we should have a day off, and so on and 
so forth. Twenty-four hours' patrol and then 


twenty-four hours' rest. Forty-eight hours' rest 
was the general rule, but, as one of the T.B.s 
had run aground the week before, and had had 
to be sent to Malta for repairs, we were short- 

Presently I returned to the Fauvette to get 
what necessaries I could obtain from the steward 
in charge of the stores. All he managed to 
provide me with was a set of pants and vest, of 
the coarsest and most horsehairy description, a 
pound of yellow soap, and a pair of enormous 
and most dreadfully ugly boots. However, even 
these were better than nothing, and, with the 
borrowed plumes in which I stood up, they had 
to serve ; and, moderately thankful for small 
mercies, I said " good-bye " to my former mess- 
mates and went ofF to my new ship. 

That night 1 slept on one of the settees 
which served the single cabin for seats and 
lockers by day as well as for bunks by night, 
and early the next morning we put to sea on 
patrol duty, carrying a crew of sixteen in 
addition to the Commander and mvself. 


When we got outside the harbour the 
engines were stopped, and all hands bathed. 
No particular incident occurred during our 
patrol, and the next morning, after being 
relieved by another T.B., we proceeded for 
duty off the island. 

My enjoyment of the three weeks I spent 
in this service was due in no little measure 
to the personal charm of my skipper, who 
was not only the most considerate and tactful 
officer to serve under, but a most charming 
and interesting companion. The work was 
mainly routine on the lines indicated above, 
and although there was plenty of variety, and 
at times no little excitement, to enlarge further 
on our doings would be waste of pen and ink, 
as any more detailed account would probably 
be " omitted by order of the censor " ! 

It had not occurred to me that those august, 
and occasionally paternally minded, powers who 
preside over the sailor-man's earthly destiny, 
would think it necessary to send me home on 
leave. " Leave " had long smce been relegated 


in my mind to that dim and distant future 
"after the war." Doubtless the said powers 
in their wisdom realised — as at that time I cer- 
tainly did not — the inevitable strain following 
on my narrow escape from the sinking ship. 

It was, however, with some surprise and 
much regret that I heard from the Commander 
on the 1st of June, that he had been ordered 
to send me at once to the auxiliary cruiser 
Carmania^ on which ship I was' to proceed to 

Very reluctantly I took leave of the T.B. and 
her genial Commander, and went on board the 
armed liner, where I found most of the sur- 
vivors from my old ship. Alas ! they were 
tragically few, for out of a ship's company of 
760, only 160 men and 20 officers had been 

The Carmania^ which still bore scars result- 
ing from her tremendous battle with the Cap 
Trafalgar earlier in the war, weighed anchor on 
the following day, and four days later reached 
Malta, where she coaled. Here I went ashore 


and managed to buy a ready-made reefer suit 
and other necessary garments ; and I was un- 
commonly glad to feel once more respectably 

Our voyage was uneventful. Now that there 
was no duty to be performed I think most of 
us began to feel a bit slack, but our spirits rose 
as they turned homewards. We had not seen 
our people for nearly thirteen months, and the 
necessarily strict censorship of all our letters had 
of course increased the sense of separation. 

On June 12 we arrived at Devonport, and 
our Commander went ashore and shortly after- 
wards returned with the welcome informa- 
tion that we had all been granted a fortnight's 

Leave ! Cheer-o ! We wasted no time in 
getting ashore, and I at once wired to my 
home telling my mother that I had arrived, 
and was going straight to London to the house 
of some cousins who had offered me hospitality 
whenever I might need it, and that I would 
there await instructions as I did not know 


where she might be. A fast train landed us 
at Paddington about 5 o'clock, and I took a 
taxi to S Place. 

^he Admiralty had informed me that he had 
sailed for England on the ind^ and I knew he 
would go to hondon according to instruction^ so 
I was able to he there to meet him. 

I had not seen him since he left for Dartmouth^ 
nearly fourteen months before. Then he was a 
roundfaced^ rosy boy 

Up the steps^ dragging a seaman s canvas kit- 
bag^ came a tall., thin figure., white of face ^ drawn., 
haggard — incredibly old. J had not quite realised 

this. For a second my heart stood still 

Where was my boy ? 

Then he saw me waiting in the hall., and his 
face lighted with half-incredulous joyous wonder : 
" Mother I You here ! " 

My boy was gone for ever — but my son had 
come home. 

Te Deum Laudamus. 

Printed m Great Britaiv bv 

Richard Clay & Sons, Limited, 

brunswick st., stamford st., s.e., 

and bvnoay, sufvolk. 




Each 'Volume Cr. Svo, Cloth, 3s. 6J. net. 


** Platoon Commander " 

"To read it is to share every experience 
(almost) in the life of a lieutenant on 
active service." — Punch. 

II. DIXMUDE. A chapter in the 
history of the Naval Brigade, 
Oct-Nov., 1914. By Charles 
le GoflBc. Illustrated 

"A great and fascinating story vphich 
stands by itself in the huge epic cycle of the 
war." — Times. 

III. IN THE FIELD (1914-15). The 
impressions of an Officer of 
Light Cavalry. 

"Dumas himself could not have bettered 
most of these pages." — Evening Standard. 


Andre Warnod 

"A vivid picture of a prisoner's life in a 
camp of mixed nationalities." — Times Lit. Sup. 

ELLES. Notes of a French 
Army Doctor. Illustrated 


'* Casualty." 

By "Anzac.'' 

Charles Hennebois.